Molly McGlone’s research includes the intersection of experimental and popular music as well as the spatial geography of urban music. An Assistant Dean for Advising and lecturer in music at the University of Pennsylvania, Molly is currently documenting music in West Philadelphia micro-cultures by working with a local high school.
"The Sounds of Philadelphia: Examining the Creative Economy in a Post-industrial City"
The sounds of Philadelphia’s clubs, concert halls, and public spaces define a musical diversity at the intersection of taste and the racial dynamics of what sociologist Elijah Anderson calls the cosmopolitan canopy. As a post-industrial city, Philadelphia has struggled with a complex school system whose 6-year high school graduation rate is 63% and one in four residents live in poverty. While the rates of crime have decreased by 20% since Mayor Michael Nutter took office in 2008, the city has seen unemployment rise to 10.9%. Yet the creative economy of the music industry in Philadelphia has become influential in trying to address these social dilemmas.
This paper will examine a few of the strategies that are being used across the city to enhance the musical, and by extension everyday, life of young people. These range from large popular concert venues like The Electric Factory sponsoring their local, low-income high school arts programs, to the philanthropic Knight Foundation supporting a free opera screening in the park, to the new Play on, Philly! after-school music program in West Philadelphia, which is largely run by graduates of the Curtis Institute for Music. By examining the musical sounds of Philadelphia that arise from the efforts of philanthropic and cultural producers, we begin to answer fundamental questions about the role of music and art in trying to save cities from post-industrial decline.