Music Heritage and Tourism

There has always been a controversy between Birmingham and Manchester as to which is the second largest after London. Birmingham a former industrial city continues to be a beacon for creativity and a melting pot in terms cultural diversity. Digbeth’s Custard Factory housing a young community of entrepreneur’s oozes creativity. Its unique business model and culture is in keeping the exponential times encouraging inter-business collaboration. The custard factory is a perfect example of how Birmingham is incubation for raw musical talent.

Music is well known for encouraging tourism in various cities, however, it is not valued enough in comparison to other aspects of tourism. Music evokes various emotions and is a strong factor behind tourism traffic in cities. Street (2004) cited by Frost (2008) adds that music may be strongly associated with political and social movements. Hence music heritage can be exploited and developed as commerce to trigger and boost tourism/visitors. According to ‘Wish you were here (2016)’, the UKs tourism industry attracts 2.8million jobs in terms of employment and a projection of £275 Billion by 2025.

Sadly Birmingham does not seem to celebrate its music heritage enough. For over 40 years the city has produced eccentric talent. Birmingham stands proud as the birthplace of innovators of heavy metal and home to numerous musicians creating an eclectic assortment of genres. The likes of Black Sabbath with Ozzy Osborne, UB40, Nirvana, Duran Duran, Ocean Colour Scene, Judas Priest, Five Young Cannibals, Led Zeppelin, The Moody Blues, Electric Light Ocean (ELO) and the Twang have local connections. These bands have in their own right made history and created lots of memories for the musicians and audience alike, playing in various pubs and venues that will likely disappear as the city regenerates.

Worldwide, there are some cities that capitalise on music heritage as a culture. These cities have built their cultural identities based on the histories as musical heritage such as Liverpool with the Beatles and Memphis with Elvis’ Graceland, which is still to date the most visited private house after the White house.

In the case of Birmingham, it may all be down to the people working in the councils who have other political agendas and party objectives to focus on, with regard to funding allocations. Music related issues always find themselves at the bottom of their trays of to-do-list it seems. The influx of different nationals who may always find themselves working in these offices may not always realise understand and appreciate the local music heritage enough to treasure it. Fremaux and Fremaux (2013) highlighted how Hamburg, though linked to the Beatles do not capitalize let alone learn or adopt the same strategies as Liverpool and AC/DC lane.

The predicament that Birmingham finds itself is similar to Zimbabwe where I come from. The government or councils do not do much to preserve and safeguard the indigenous music heritage. Zimbabwe has a depth of music infusing day-to-day life. Highfields location (Machipisa township), on the outskirts of Harare city centre was the only place under the colonial regime allowing black people to reside, socialise and gather. It produced big names the likes of Oliver Mtukudzi, Thomas Mapfumo who then started of with a band called Springfield and later, James Chimombe, Alec Macheso and Kiyama Boys, Marshal Munhumumwe and the Four Boys, Acid band, Susan Chenjerai, Safirio Madzikatire, Stella Chiweshe, John Chibadura and Leonard Dembo to name a few. These musicians played at local venues as resident musicians. Women musicians were sparse, as in those days as it was seen as taboo for them to perform at such venues. Two venues Saratoga nightclub and Mushandirapwe hotel operate but not as music heritage tourism sites while Mutanga nightclub another venue is now a supermarket.

It may be an arduous task to develop a strategy and to turn these venues into a cultural music heritage site more so with economic barriers. However, Zimbabweans are a fun loving, peaceful people who thrive and find refuge in music even in the worst of situations. Approaching a consortium of prominent private sector entrepreneurs in Zimbabwe could fund the strategy ‘Kuumba’ meaning ‘to rebuild’.  The diverse cultural heritage would provide a base for strong cultural tourism. The target audience would cut across the board.

References

Fremaux, S. and Fremaux, M. (2013) Remembering the Beatles’ legacy in Hamburg’s problematic tourism strategy. Journal of Heritage Tourism, 8(4), pp. 303–319. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/1743873x.2013.799172.

Frost, W. (2008) Popular culture as a different type of heritage: The making of AC/DC lane. Journal of Heritage Tourism, 3(3), pp. 176–182. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.2167/jht041.0.

Studios, C. (2013b) Music tourism: Wish you were here 2015. Available at: http://www.ukmusic.org/research/music-tourism-wish-you-were-here-2015/ [Accessed 14 October 2016].

Bibliography

Baker, S., ed. (2015) Preserving popular music heritage: Do-it-yourself, do-it-together. Abingdon, United Kingdom: Routledge.

Dallen, T. J. and Timothy, D. J. (2011) Cultural heritage and tourism: An introduction (aspects of tourism texts). Buffalo: Channel View Publications.

Anon (2016) VisitBritain. Available at: https://www.visitbritain.org/visitor-economy-facts [Accessed 15 October 2016].

Fremaux, S. and Fremaux, M. (2013) Remembering the Beatles’ legacy in Hamburg’s problematic tourism strategy. Journal of Heritage Tourism, 8(4), pp. 303–319. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/1743873x.2013.799172.

Frost, W. (2008) Popular culture as a different type of heritage: The making of AC/DC lane. Journal of Heritage Tourism, 3(3), pp. 176–182. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.2167/jht041.0.

Studios, C. (2013a) MAP members Login. Available at: http://www.ukmusic.org/skills-academy/music-academic-partnership/login/ [Accessed 13 October 2016].

Studios, C. (2013b) Music tourism: Wish you were here 2015. Available at: http://www.ukmusic.org/research/music-tourism-wish-you-were-here-2015/ [Accessed 14 October 2016].

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