FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Nov. 1, 2017
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated Kansas City as part of its Creative Cities Network for music. Kansas City is the only U.S. city ever named a music city by UNESCO.
Jazz is an art form created in the United States, and Kansas City’s swing style was born here and exported worldwide.
“This gives us a platform that no other city in America has for our music,” said Mayor Pro Tem Scott Wagner. “We know that Kansas City’s jazz has had global impact, and this is now being recognized internationally.”
Tuesday’s announcement adds 64 cities from 44 countries to the Creative Cities roster.
Since 2004, the UNESCO Creative Cities Network highlights its members’ creativity within seven fields: Crafts and Folk Art, Design, Film, Gastronomy, Literature, Media Arts and Music. It now counts a total of 180 cities in 72 countries.
The Wendell Phillips Neighborhood Association, home to Kansas City’s Historic 18th & Vine Jazz District, filed the winning application.
“Kansas City is in transition, we are busting at the seams with creative ventures that promote a strong vibrant, innovative and prosperous city,” said John James, president of Wendell Phillips. “For example, the streetcar, KCATA expansion, a new airport, all infused with economic inclusion will thrust us to the next level.”
“This was one of the most difficult applications I have ever encountered but it was the history and legacy of those musical giants that provided the words and the dedication of all the arts organizations of the city to produce this awesome designation and it was an honor to shepherd their work,” said Anita Dixon, who helped write the application.
The Center for Neighborhoods at the University of Missouri- Kansas City also worked on the application, which highlighted Kansas City’s jazz history as well as its current music scene.
The 18th & Vine district is home to the American Jazz and Negro Leagues Baseball museums, the Mutual Musicians Foundation, as well as the Blue Room and the Gem Theater.
While differing geographically, demographically or economically, all Creative Cities commit to develop and exchange innovative best practices to promote creative industries, strengthen participation in cultural life, and integrate culture into sustainable urban development policies.
This designation connects Kansas City’s creative community with that global network, and is expected to attract additional international visitors.
The honor comes as the City has been investing $7 million in new infrastructure at 18th & Vine through a redevelopment plan approved by the City Council. Phase one is nearly complete, and residents can provide feedback on the plan this Friday from 5-8 p.m.at the American Jazz Museum during the First Friday’s Fall Festival.
For more information about the UNESCO designation, please contact Mayor Pro Tem Wagner at 816-513- 6503.