Cardiff is the UK’s first city to embrace the theory of music urbanism and incorporate it into its planning, licensing, regeneration, health and wellbeing, tourism and overall local authority strategy. Music urbanism is the act of a local authority understanding the value of music across its entire governance structure, rather than only seeing music as a tool to engage with singularly, either as an industrial mechanism, or through tourism or education, for example. This is the purpose of Cardiff’s music strategy - and engaging with it for years to come - and the idea that underpins music urbanism as a whole.
Music urbanism encompasses each local authority department and explores how music, if incorporated in at the earliest possible policy stages, can be a force for good, a creator of wealth and an enlivenment mechanism for residents, businesses and visitors. For this to happen, a local authority must explore the role of music in each of these departments and priorities. Questions that define - and explore the value of music across each department - are:
Governance and Leadership - How strong are the lines of communication between the music industry and policy makers, if they exist at all? Is there a board, and, if so, are there a variety of sectors represented on it? Is there a dedicated council member for the music or cultural industries?
Licensing & Police - Is there a joined up approach between cabinet members, licensing committee members, police and local residents and businesses to pursue a fact-based, pragmatic approach to licensing that prioritises both safety and cultural value?
Planning - Is music and culture taken as a core priority, alongside other land uses, in regeneration policies? Are cultural and musical provisions being built into new schemes, or are they left to be bolted on? Are Section 106, CiL levies and other mechanisms inclusive of music uses?
Transport - Is a local authorities’ transport policy understanding of the needs of artists, creators and creative businesses? Is there a sufficient evening and night time economy transport policy that allows for art to be showcased and for those enjoying it to be able to safely travel home afterwards?
Employment & Skills - How is the music industry involved in the development, growth and success of the city? Is it creating jobs, supporting artistic development and engaging citizens? Is there a policy to develop this?
Education - Is music education being treated with the same priorities as other subjects? Music education, at the earliest age, support cognitive development, promote socialisation and engage young minds in ways other subjects do not. Is a city understanding that its future businesspeople and citizens will benefit from musical engagement?
Tourism & Branding - Is music looked at with a deliberate and intentional mindset, to encourage tourism, support soft-power mechanism and improving the desirability of the city? A thriving music and culture offer is often a priority to attracting investment, jobs and skills. Is this taken seriously?
Spaces and Places - Do musicians have accessible, affordable and adequate facilities to rehearse, record and perform? Is there a variety of capacity music venues? Is there a diversity in genre and demographic representation?
Housing - Are we providing affordable housing for creatives, and is the housing stock being developed in town centre and metropolitan areas understanding of their neighbours and ancillary uses, to ensure those living in busier parts of town - when new stock is brought to use - able to coexist with existing uses?
This is an overview of the potential uses of music across a local authority - all of which Cardiff is actively working across. Music urbanism is a process and policy direction, similar to an SPD and as such, its objective is not to create immediate change, but lead to a culture shift where a local authority recognises that culture - and people - come first in all decisions. And music, being our universal language, is one of the best tools to engage with, support and enliven people.