Mounting evidence shows that a thriving music scene is a key to a successful city. I’ve written several previous posts about this topic, but today The Atlantic Cities reported that Denton, Texas, has used music to build itself up.
If you click on the link in the last sentence, you’d be forgiven for momentarily thinking the picture actually is Provo. That’s because Denton apparently has a walkable downtown with a Wells Fargo building across the street from historic structures — just like Provo. The similarities don’t stop there. Denton has two universities, a similar population size, and of course a thriving music scene.
Significantly, one guy in Denton wanted his friends to stop leaving the city, so he turned to the music scene:
Several years ago, Chris Flemmons, a long-time resident and singer/songwriter for the Sub Pop band The Baptist Generals, decided he wanted to stem the annual exodus of his friends who went looking for jobs in cities outside of Denton. He thought the best way to do this was to leverage what he saw as the city’s “best export” – its music scene.
Flemmons’ eventually created a music festival called 35 Denton, and it appears to be a success. Significantly, it’s also revitalizing the city:
35 Denton is also emerging as the catalyst Flemmons envisioned. Kevin Roden, the city councilmember whose district contains 35 Denton’s footprint, views the festival as a low- to no-cost national branding tool for the city, helping make it attractive to a younger demographic.
“We are seeing an increased interest in the downtown area,” Roden says, adding, “It’s hard to remove what’s going on with 35 Denton and the energy it’s put into downtown venues that host music throughout the year.”
Roden additionally offers that 35 Denton is a common topic in discussions with those responsible for the new commuter rail line connecting the city to Dallas as well as developers interested in reshaping the downtown area with music as a foundation.
The article goes on to mention businesses and young professionals who stayed in Denton because it has a great music festival. That’s exactly the sort of thing that needs to happen in Provo, and that is happening; I know that both I and others of my cohort wouldn’t even have considered staying in Provo if not for the thriving music and arts scene.
As I’ve argued before, Velour, Muse Music, the Rooftop Concert Series and other music-related culture is a vital part of Provo’s success. But Denton offers additional and compelling evidence that a music scene can be a financial asset, spurring revitalization and keeping young creative people in the city. Like Denton, music is perhaps Provo’s “best export.”