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Sound Diplomacy to make Cardiff a ‘Music City’
Music will be placed at the heart of Cardiff’s future when the Welsh capital is officially declared a ‘Music City’ on Thursday (14th).

The city will then begin working with global leaders of the Music Cities movement, Sound Diplomacy, on the development of a new music strategy that will protect Cardiff’s music scene and boost the city’s international profile.

This strategy will see Cardiff leading the way and becoming one of the first cities to assess the ways in which music can help create the type of city people want to live in.

Following their successful work in cities such as Barcelona, Berlin, San Francisco and London, Sound Diplomacy will work with the whole music sector - from musicians, promoters and venues, to planners, licencing authorities and educators, to assess the value of the music and its supporting ecology to Cardiff.

The aim is to develop policies that treat music as infrastructure and will deliver a healthy music ecosystem, which in turn creates vibrant, exciting communities, builds an international profile and increases the value of music in the city.

Before the work commences, music lovers are invited to attend a celebratory evening on Womanby Street from 6.45pm to hear speeches from local politicians and supporters of the Save Womanby Street campaign, before enjoying the free gigs taking place in some of the venues on the street.

Council Leader, Cllr Huw Thomas, who will be speaking at the event, said:  “We all know that Wales is a musical nation, and as the capital city, I believe Cardiff has a huge role to play in celebrating and promoting this. Music is an incredibly powerful force for good in our everyday lives, but more than this, it has the power to shape cities, particularly ones with the distinctive cultural offering that we have here in Cardiff.

“That’s why this announcement is such great news, not just for musicians and concert-goers, but for everyone who wants to see Cardiff develop its international profile, make the most of its potential and become a truly great world capital.”

Sound Diplomacy CEO Shain Shapiro said "It's an honour and a responsibility to be working with Cardiff Council to add up, measure and assess the music infrastructure across the city. The council have shown through their efforts on Womanby Street and their increased engagement on music that to them, music is of economic, social and cultural benefit to the city. We take this incredibly seriously, and will work to develop a music policy that musicians, businesses and residents can benefit from and be proud of.

“If one attaches music to urbanism – learning about the complex organisms that our cities are, and about how they operate – it provides unique insight into understanding the types of cities we want, compared to the types of cities we often create.

“Music is a proven tool to reduce social exclusion and loneliness. Taught with the same vigour as maths and sciences, it improves cognition and empathy. It also enhances the perception of safety, such as when classical music is stations during rush hour.”

Cllr Thomas added:  “Wales has long been known as a land of song, so it is only right that music is placed at the heart of its capital city.  Cardiff has an incredibly rich musical heritage and you only have to visit the city during Sŵn Festival, spend a night out on Womanby Street, or at St David’s Hall in the company of the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, to know that it also has an exciting musical future.

“Our work with Sound Diplomacy will go a long way towards protecting the future of music in Cardiff, but it will also go further, harnessing the power of the city’s musical past, and its future, to help drive regeneration, strengthen communities and benefit the economy.”

Cabinet Member for Culture and Leisure, Councillor Peter Bradbury, said:  “Music can promote social cohesion, improve wellbeing and for some, it can offer a route out of poverty.  So what we aim to do is create an environment where it’s easy for bands to form, produce new music and build their audiences – Cardiff’s already a fantastically creative city, working with Sound Diplomacy will help us create the conditions where that creativity can shine.”

Speaking on behalf of the Save Womanby Street Campaign, Alex Owen said:  “The 14th December will be a momentous day. After months of campaigning it is great to see a city's dreams become a reality. We can’t wait to be working with Cardiff Council and Sound Diplomacy, pioneers of music cities, to protect and support our music so it can thrive. The ambitious plans that have been set out mean that we are not just talking about protecting live music, but planning to help it thrive for decades to come. 

“This is far from the end but it does signal a new beginning to make Cardiff the very best for music development in the UK.  On the 14th we will be celebrating the achievements, the partnerships and the power of our community on Womanby Street across all venues. We invite anyone who loves music to join us in celebration and show the world Cardiff means business when it comes to music. Exciting times are here.”

Image by:  Polly Thomas