Vermont Joins International 'Music Cities' Family, Represented at First U.S. Conference

Photos by Leslie Kossoff.

Big Heavy World’s Executive Director, James Lockridge, got to jump into a mix of people who are responsible for music offices and music community-building from across the world, joining a panel at the Music Cities Convention in Washington, D.C. on October 25. It was the United States debut of the conference, founded in Brighton, England by Sound Diplomacy, a research and marketing thought leader that places music and music business strategy in city, urban and development plans. Dani Grant, founder of SpokesBUZZ in Fort Collins, CO, coordinated the ‘Small Communities, Development and the Global Movement’ panel that included Jim. Travel to the convention was made possible in part by the Vermont Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts. In the photo above, left to right: James Lockridge; Karin Wolf, Head of Arts, City of Madison, WI; Ben Berthelot, Visitors Bureau, City of Lafayette, LA; Lisa Richards Toney, Interim Executive Director, DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities. Photo by Leslie Kossoff.

Music Cities Convention is the world’s first conference focusing on the relationship between city planning, strategy, development, and the music industry.


“From venue and community space development to education, employment, event provision, licensing, regulation and demographics, city tourism, soft power and brand development, music industries impact a number of issues prevalent in city planning, strategy, regulatory and legislative aspects. Music Cities Convention brings together the top minds from municipalities, regions, academics, consultancies and the music industry to discuss, debate and introduce new thinking, action and structure to develop more vibrant, global cities.”

Jim got to present about Big Heavy World’s volunteer-run model for preserving and promoting Vermont-made music, the mission of bringing distant VT musicians into contact with one another to strengthen social capital, and the challenges faced that are unique to our rural state and the City of Burlington. Big Heavy World reflected the tech-heavy, entrepreneurial grassroots spirit Vermonters are capable of and nicely complemented the other organizational models shared by cities and regions from around the world.


Jim brought Vermont into a family of music community builders gathered for nine ‘TED’ style presentations, four executive panels, and several high-intensity networking sessions. Flavors ranged from the post-Katrina rebirth of New Orleans’ music to the Federal Agency of Transportation’s reflection on how transportation validly intersects with the music industry. Strategies for development of community and industry were brought by delegates from countries like Mexico, Sweden, Ireland, Germany, Norway, Australia and Canada and cities like Austin, Denver, Boston, Washington, D.C., Toronto, Lafayette, LA, Madison, WI, and more.

Priorities and programs were shared as models. Vermont joined a worldwide family of people working to show how valuable music is to their communities, economically and socially, and accomplishing this diverse work with the support of governments up to the highest levels.

With very special thanks to all involved, look for bridges to be built between Vermont and our new Music City friends, and for Big Heavy World to bring Vermont’s music industry stakeholders together to gain a larger understanding of what’s possible for our own awe-inspiring music community.