Partners Look to Enhance Northwest Arkansas’ Music Ecosystem

The Northwest Arkansas Council, with support from the Walton Family Foundation, will solicit feedback later this month as part of a new initiative to enhance the region’s music ecosystem.

 The House of Songs was established in Austin, Texas, but it opened in second permanent location in Bentonville in 2017.

The House of Songs was established in Austin, Texas, but it opened in second permanent location in Bentonville in 2017.

The Council has hired London-based Sound Diplomacy to evaluate Northwest Arkansas’ music ecosystem, map its music-focused assets, and provide a deep understanding of music’s economic importance to the region. Information about the music ecosystem audit will be kept on a public website dedicated to the Northwest Arkansas project.

“Northwest Arkansas has a storied musical history, and is an important driver of the region’s economy and livability,” said Mike Harvey, the Council’s chief operating officer. “We want to make sure that we have a robust ecosystem in place to realize our potential as one of America’s music destinations.”

Sound Diplomacy is recognized worldwide for its talent in advising cities, regions and countries on using their assets to build robust music scenes. The company has worked with countries such as Cuba for the United Nations; the cities of Huntsville, Alabama and Vancouver, British Columbia; the mayor of London; the New York City Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment; and hundreds of other public and private sector clients to advance music’s economic and cultural role in communities. 

 The Symphony of Northwest Arkansas is led by acclaimed Music Director Paul Haas. SoNA’s new season opens Nov. 3 at Walton Arts Center in Fayetteville.

The Symphony of Northwest Arkansas is led by acclaimed Music Director Paul Haas. SoNA’s new season opens Nov. 3 at Walton Arts Center in Fayetteville.

The team is about to start a public phase of its work. Sound Diplomacy representatives will be coming to the region to do field research, lead roundtable discussions and conduct interviews with people in the public and private sectors about the project. Sound Diplomacy will provide cutting edge research and market expertise to determine how to build on the region’s success. The new initiative will provide a comprehensive mapping of the region’s music-related assets, among them performance, studio and rehearsal spaces, music infrastructure, industry and education. An analysis of opportunities and a music-policy assessment will be part of the work.  

Sound Diplomacy will hold an open forum so the community can engage with the team, provide insight, and learn about the overall work in the region. The forum will take place from 6:30 to 9 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 25 at George’s Majestic Lounge in Fayetteville.

All local music ecosystem and industry stakeholders are invited to join the open forum to find out more about the music ecosystem audit of Northwest Arkansas and ask questions.  

A primary goal of the work is to satisfy Northwest Arkansas residents’ growing interest in an even more robust music scene.

Northwest Arkansas already has impressive legacy music venues; Walton Arts Center and George’s Majestic Lounge are among them. The region also hosts the Fayetteville Roots Festival that occurs each August, and is recognized as one of the best events of its kind in the nation. In recent years, the region’s music ecosystem has grown significantly, marked by the opening of such venues as the Walmart AMP outdoor amphitheater in Rogers, Haxton Road Studios in downtown Bentonville, and the recent opening of The House of Songs Ozarks, as well as the highly anticipated opening of The Momentary in downtown Bentonville.