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UNESCO City of Music: 2 Year Anniversary

  • By Cory Crossman


UNESCO City of Music: 2 Year Anniversary

Two years ago on November 8th, London joined the largest cultural network in the world by being named Canada’s first UNESCO City of Music! The UNESCO Creative Cities Network promotes cooperation with and among cities that have identified creativity as a way to make positive social and economic change. Through this UNESCO City of Music designation, the City of London is working with others around the world to place creativity and cultural industries at the heart of London’s development plans while helping to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). On October 31st (International Cities Day), the UNESCO Cities of Music Network expanded to include seventy-five (75) cities.

The last 12 months were a complete whirlwind. London’s UNESCO City of Music Designation played a critical role in creating new opportunities and rejuvenating programs. Here are a few projects we’ve highlighted.

🎡 The first quarter of the year saw the introduction of the London Music Accelerator program with three weeks of intensive one-on-one professional development in the form of skill development and asset creation. Offering broader supports for the community, the addition of CMI’s Pop-Up incubators set up over 13 weeks from January to the end of March, allowed musicians and music industry professionals an opportunity to have their career questions answered and were supported by industry experts and mentors. The mentorship continued with Masterclasses, boot camps, workshops and panel discussions focused on aiding and supporting London musicians, music promoters and content creators.  

🎡 As the curling world descended upon the Forest City for the Tim Horton’s Brier, London’s music community took center stage through the UNESCO City of Music designation. Local musicians brought the party nightly with concerts at The Patch and were featured throughout the tournament's other events. London artist Wolf Saga was the soundtrack to Tourism London’s nationally broadcast commercial that air every single commercial break over 10 days.

🎡 UNESCO City of Music murals sprung up around the city including at major transit hubs like the London International Airport and London’s VIA Rail station while landmarks like RBC Place London dedicated space to welcome guests with a massive mural. Music continued to inspire artists with picnic tables at Covent Garden Market or the massive Johnny Cash / June Carter proposal mural on the side of Budweiser Gardens.

🎡 The first City of Music Expo was staged at RBC Place bringing thousands of visitors including Ontario Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport to discuss the positive impacts of a UNESCO City of Music designation. Connected to this event was the hugely successful inaugural City of Music Conference which brought international speakers and municipal and music sector leaders from across Canada to discuss the power music brings to a community. The conference brought music policy front and centre with music champions from the civic realm discussing strategies to make communities better through music.  

🎡 London musicians really stepped up during the Grand Theatre’s East Coast Kitchen Party showing exactly why London is Canada’s UNESCO City of Music. The wildly successful 23 date program allowed London musicians to perform to capacity crowds.

🎡 Stepping out from the crowd, London’s UNESCO City of Music identity was front and centre as thousands attended the OBIAA and AMO Conference. With these conferences leaning into London’s new UNESCO City of Music designation, it made way for dozens of paid gigs at each conference.

🎡 During International Day of Jazz, London took a leading role in a UNESCO Creative Cities Network project with the Jazz Day Relay featuring musicians, film and audio crews from around the world. The collaboration on this project of the UNESCO Creative Cities of Music Network highlighted the importance of local and global efforts for water conservation, healthy oceans and sustainable development. The relay started in Chile and wrapped up in London, Canada.

🎡 Aeolian Hall hosted the second annual Aeolian Hall Songwriter Contest celebrating London’s UNESCO City of Music designation with a national songwriting contest. The contest is designed to offer a platform and showcase for artists to celebrate their creations, gain support through prizes and showcase London as a UNESCO City of Music. It is also a way to celebrate Canada’s talented creatives and focus on inspiration during this especially challenging time. 

🎡 Community leaders, Sunfest, ramped up their collaborative efforts and continued to not only put on an incredible festival but, grew their International Presenters Network in partnership with the UNESCO Creative Cities Network in 2023 and Tourism London support.

🎡 Throughout 2023, London was able to participate in UNESCO City of Music artist exchanges sending artists to Sweden, Hungary, Northern Ireland, and South Korea. London also welcome international exchange opportunities with artist and industry traveling to London from UNESCO Cities of Music during Sunfest (Hungary), Home County Music & Art Festival (N. Ireland), and throughout the UNESCO City of Music Concert Series in Market Lane (USA, Belgium N. Ireland). The City of Music concerts supported 42 artists over 12 concerts.

🎡 Folk Music Ontario (FMO) returned to Canada’s UNESCO City of Music in October of 2023. Through the UNESCO network Hannover, Germany was able to jump aboard and showcase during FMO. With the support of Tourism London and Music Declares Emergency a sustainable travel option was provided supporting the UN 2030 Sustainable Agenda bring additional hotel visitations and visitors to the city contributing to 800+ delegates attending FMO.

🎡London’s UNESCO City of Music designation secured VENUExVENUE, a multi-venue showcase festival that kicks its inaugural event off later this week. 40+ artists across 6 venues will rock our city with local and international talent.

It has been an incredible year so far and we can’t wait to see what next year brings!

To learn more about London's UNESCO designation, visit the link here.



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