The Surprising Provo Mystique

In the last two days, I’ve written two posts about cutting edge environmental projects happening in Provo right now. While  I was working on one of those posts last night, I also came across this Fox 13 news report on Muse Music. The video characterizes the music venue as a training ground for up-and-coming musicians.

Taking in all of this information I was struck at how it paints a wildly different picture than many people, in and out of the city, have of Provo. The area seems cooler, more progressive, and more vital than its former reputation might suggest, and than most other cities I read about. In other words, it genuinely comes across as an exciting place with incredible potential.

In the past, I’ve referred to this process of amelioration as magnifying a city’s mystique. The idea is that cities that cultivate a strong positive image, or mystique, are able to attract people, investment, and capital, as well as the collateral benefits that come with those things.

Mystique is a hard concept to quantify. After all, how do you boil excitement down to a dollar amount or a spreadsheet?

But difficult or not, mystique does have a benefit. I’ve written repeatedly about the Opera House Effect, for example, and how cultural attractions in a city bolster prosperity. Writers like Richard Florida have also looked at things like creativitycollege towns and technology usage in an effort to put some hard data behind this idea. The result is that cities that have better reputations, or growing mystique, tend to do better in various areas.

In any case, what surprises me is that even in the time I’ve been writing this blog Provo seems to have come a long way. There’s more reportage on its environmental efforts, for example, and its cultural offerings continue to garner more and more attention. Case in point: Provo’s city hall gardens have existed for a while but it’s remarkable that they’re now showing up on national news outlets.

The point is that Provo is earning a reputation as a leader. It’s a great place for business, sure, but it’s also going to be a great place to live. And that’s really what matters.

Vegetables and flowers in public landscaping. Provo’s efforts to lead in environmental stewardship are slowly growing the city’s reputation as a leader.

Muse Music, along with the Echo Theatre and Velour Live Music Venue, are helping make Provo a more desirable place to live.


1 Comment

Filed under arts, environment

One response to “The Surprising Provo Mystique

  1. Interesting topic. I agree that Provo has this mystique that’s hard to define. Tosh Metzger posted a photo on the Facebook group for downtown Provo recently of a piece of art that said, “keep Provo boring.” While he disagreed with it, I sort of think (and hope) the artist was being ironic. I think there’s a great buzz in Provo. Exciting things are happening.
    Often when other places catch too much of a buzz, you have “outsiders” that come and change the dynamics. A good example is Seattle in the 90s when so many outsiders moved in, the long-timers began with the bumper stickers and t-shirts that declared “Native.”
    My opinion, and what I think the artist was getting at, is if others call this boring, let’s keep it boring! Others can continue thinking there’s nothing happening in Provo while those of us that know can go on enjoying the perks of life in Provo.
    I’d wear a shirt that says “Keep Provo Boring” any day!

    **I couldn’t find the photo I mentioned by Tosh. But I found my t-shirt!

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