October 10-12, 2018 • Lafayette, Louisiana

The 7th edition of Music Cities Convention was held in Lafayette, Louisiana, the “Happiest City in America.

48 speakers and 265 attendees gathered to talk about how music can help build vibrant, global and safer cities over two full days of presentations, talks, panels and live music.

This year’s theme was “Diversity and Improving Our Cities and Communities through Music”, a key topic not only for Lafayette’s rich cultural history around Cajun and Zydeco, but also for cities big and small all over the world.

On October 10 we headed to the Blue Moon Saloon for the event’s opening reception where we ate, danced and even played music at the weekly Cajun Jam event.


October 11th in a beautiful and sunny Lafayette, we travelled to the Acadiana Center for the Arts to kick off Day 1 with the panel “Diverse Communities: Music, Diversity, City Development”, during which representatives from New York, Washington, Philadelphia and Lafayette debated on the challenges and opportunities faced by US cities.


An inspiring keynote presentation by Al Bell delved deeper into the US music scene by telling the story of Stax Records and Motown Records before leaving the stage to Carmen Gloria Larenas and Frutillar’s campaign towards becoming a UNESCO City of Music.


We concluded the morning with discussions on the importance of having affordable housing and on the music city of Tamworth, Australia, after which a superb performance by “little Nate” welcomed us into lunch at the Rock'n'Bowl® de Lafayette, hosted by the American Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation.  


The afternoon saw presentations by Nolfris “Slim Kuttar” Williams and Ryan Cazares, a panel discussion on “The Need For Powerful Community Radio In Music Cities” and further presentations on music education programs, artists’ livelihood and the role of music tourism in Louisiana which was presented by the office of Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser.


The day ended in typical Music Cities Convention style, with attendees heading to The Warehouse 535 to attend a special concert celebrating the life of Caeser Vincent.


Day 2 kicked off with Kath Davies introducing the audience to Kirkless, a small town with a thriving music community, followed by a presentation by Storm Gloor, the first professor to conduct a course on Music Cities, alongside three of his students.


We then heard from Sharon Yazowski on the Levitt Foundation and its contribution to community building, while Austin Barrows told us more about the amazing work the city of El Dorado has been undertaking.

The relationship between music and city planning was then analysed from an international point of view with talks from Clara Barbera, from the Berklee College of Music in Valencia, Spain, and from Abed Hathot, who shared the story and challenges of organising the Palestinian Music Expo.


Attendees had the chance to have lunch in the beautiful Parc Sans Souci before getting down to work on this edition’s roundtable, which focused on identifying the key steps that cities should take to become more supportive of artists.


Case studies from Louisiana, New York and Massachusetts led us towards the end of the talks, which was rounded off by a final panel on the role of governments in fostering diversity through music.

Attendees then headed to Girard Park to attend Festivals Acadiens et Créoles, the best way to conclude our Convention and to celebrate Louisiana’s incredible music heritage.


The event would not have existed if it weren’t  for our partners, so we would like to thank them for their support and for believing in music the way we do: Lafayette Convention & Visitors Commission, CREATE and Lafayette Consolidated Government.

The first 2019 Music Cities Convention will take place in Chengdu, China: it will be the first ever Asian edition and we couldn’t be more excited about it! Although for now head here to check out our Lafayette recap video: