Katowice Cultural Institute

Last week I was invited to speak in the Katowice Music Summit in Katowice, Poland.

This was the first music summit held by the Katowice Cultural Institute, which is supporting cultural and social change in a beautiful region of Poland known as “Upper Salesia.” Katowice is the 5th largest city in Poland, often overshadowed by Krakow and Warsaw, but is now emerging with the honorable “music city” designation by UNESCO.

The music summit united a crew of night time mayors, city planners, researchers, economists, government consultants, events promoters, music center developers, cultural arts leaders and advocates from around the world. I was invited to represent my work in Columbus (Columbus Music Commission, Columbus Songwriters Association, How To Build A Music City research) and discuss the implications of a music center for music scene development and city growth.

Yes, the food was amazing. The city was interesting and our hosts were very kind. I was able to trade ideas with thought leaders around the world – and I want to share 3 takeaways with you.

1. Music is an important asset for city growth. About 150 years ago, Katowice was born into a coal mining region of Poland. Through years of economic and cultural change, they’ve arrived at a need for music scene development, and have begun to fund projects that will help attract musicians and stimulate social and community growth. It’s a top-down approach, but a sign of awareness of the power of music. Through their efforts to surround themselves with global community, rally government support for music, and music community – it seems like their citizens are experiencing new fusion of people, background, cultures, creativity, and eventually, it seems economic growth will follow.

2. Collaboration is often awarded. Katowice, while being the 5th largest city, has begun to stand out due to recent national and international recognition for their cultural development. This micro growth has brought Krakow, Warsaw, Lublin, and other cities to the table, to talk about the importance of music in each city. While their local support may vary, there is an opportunity for these cities to come together to advocate for greater financial support and funding from the ministry of culture. By collaborating to appeal for countrywide support, the may essential “double up” their financial support from the government, and create positive opportunities for musicians in Poland faster than before. What happens when you apply this collaborative model to emerging music cities in a region of the US like the Midwest?

3. Bottom-up processes help ensure cultural, social, and economic balance that leads to sustained growth. I continually relearn that the characteristics of “growth” in any strategy or organization are often defined by the elements of this balance. If artificially compromised, imbalance in cultural, social, or economic can quickly lead to “empty” growth and less than ideal outcomes. On the other hand, in Katowice, their “Music Hub” project has recently involved musicians from their community in the planning process. At the summit, they invited musicians to speak out their supports and criticisms of the project. It appears as if this cultural and social inclusion into the process is helping to protect their economic future from community disdain, and instead, ensure that their results will be maximized.

Whether you’re a company that’s launching a new product, or a music center that’s laying concrete, involving your customers and stakeholders in the development process is absolutely essential for real results. Many products and brands use research to help unsure that the interests and preferences of their products are inline with their customers. Through clear (or hyper intuitive – Steve Jobs) understanding of customer or stakeholder needs, I believe that your startup, your new restaurant, your emerging service, or music city will inevitably pivot closer and closer towards the balance of social and cultural value (community, brand) that reinforces economic gain (profit).

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