Katowice’s entry to the UNESCO Creative Cities Network on December 11, 2015 was one of the most important moments in the city’s development. Receiving the title of a City of Music was confirmation of Katowice’s unique artistic and institutional potential which made the city stand out for decades, as well as the effectiveness of a strategy embracing culture and creative industries as one of the pillars of sustained development. Katowice’s addition to the Creative Cities Network was an obligation to develop its music creative industries, finalize its social goals – especially increasing social cohesion – and to intensify international cooperation in accordance to the Mission Statement.
To this end, the city undertook a series of actions and initiated many projects, following the 17 Sustainable Development Goals contained within the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
The actions were planned and performed on several levels. The local level included enterprises regarding education, increasing the citizens’ cultural competencies and a series of projects directed the development of music creative industries, including the professionalization program District Sounds Good and the creation of the MusicHub incubator.
District Sounds Good
A project started in 2016; its goal is to support young, rising artists associated with Katowice and the region who are on the path towards professionalization and joining the music industry. It is realized yearly, beginning with selecting 4 – 5 non-professional bands through a casting process by a jury consisting of known musicians and industry representatives. The participants selected benefit from year-long, complex support provided by the Katowice City of Gardens institution.
The young bands qualified to the program also have many opportunities to showcase their music during events organized by the City of Katowice, events organized in partnership with private subjects, as well as those produced by the city in cooperation with other UNESCO Creative Cities
For a year, every band was given unlimited access to the spaces of Katowice’s MusicHub, including a fully equipped rehearsal room and record studio.
On the national level, the city participated in the organization of important enterprises of a market, conference and showcase nature, which work in service of Poland’s entire music industry.
World Music Expo WOMEX
In 2017, Katowice, as the first city in Poland, hosted the World Music Expo WOMEX. The presence of the most important world music event here in Poland opened unique possibilities for artists of this genre working in the country and in turn, they have utilized this opportunity by showing up in numbers at networking meetings. Simultaneously, the status of co-host has given Katowice the unique opportunity to present the Polish music scene during showcases. This way, Polish bands received wide presentation for the first time in WOMEX history.
The Fryderyk 2019 Gala and Conference
In 2018, Katowice were chosen to host the gala for the most important music industry award in Poland – the Fryderyk awards. For the first time in history, the awards for the best artists and albums of the year were awarded outside of the capital. For the first time, to meet the expectations of Katowice – a city guided by its mission as a City of Music – the event featured conferences and showcases, a program which is incredibly important for the music industry. Thus, Katowice contribute to the development of the Polish music industry, becoming a space for important meetings, discussions, exchange of practices and presenting emerging artists.
Just as important was activity on the international level. During its first four years as part of the Network, the City of Katowice fulfilled an ambitious project of artistic exchange between Cities of Music; and not just from Europe, but countries from outside the continent as well. A particular achievement was co-organizing the UNCC Annual Meeting alongside Kraków, which happened only three years into Katowice’s membership in the Network.
Implementing Sustainable Development Goals
JazzArt Festival as part of the Keychange initiative
Following the idea of gender equality (SDG 5), the City of Katowice introduced its flagship jazz festival – Katowice JazzArt Festival – into the Keychange initiative, pledging to achieve gender parity among the invited artists by 2022. This way, KJAF became the first Polish music festival to commit to this idea. In practice, this goal was achieved as soon as in 2019 – from 16 bands participating in the festival, 11 were formed or co-formed by female artists.
To meet the target of access to education (SDG 4.7) aimed at cultural diversity, with the role of culture in realizing sustainable development goals, as well as to fill the gap in governmental school programs, the City of Katowice created the Musicdrome within the headquarters of the Katowice City of Gardens institution – a centre for music education featuring a rich program of music classes. The Musicdrome’s workshop offer – available on weekends – is aimed at several age groups, from the youngest children (0 -2), through older ones (6 – 9), to teenagers (up to 14 years old). The activities are based on innovative, original methods prepared by Joanna Bronisławska, one of the best music educators in Poland.
Music School for Social Change
Continuing the first actions as part of the pan-European good practices exchange project Urbact initiated between 2018/2019, the City of Katowice is introducing the Music School for Social Change program, with aims at the years 2020 – 2024. In line with its concept, a groundbreaking music education program for students of grades I – III will be implemented in chosen primary schools in Katowice. The project’s target result will be the creation of children’s brass orchestras. On a symbolic level, this will be a reference to the region’s brass orchestra traditions, which are still going strong in Katowice and the whole of Silesia. However, the project is primarily meant to facilitate better socialization among students and to increase cohesion among peers in cases of economic stratification. It is also meant to contribute to the development of music culture among the younger generations of Katowice’s citizens, with the potential to impact other schools and peer groups.