Music is the beating heart of Valencia

A city that rocked Spain with its controversial home-grown La Ruta scene, Valencia knows the cultural, political and personal power that music has for society. Now the city is pushing boundaries again with the power of music to help deliver our fundamental rights.

“There are many fundamental rights that music can strengthen,” explains Ana Maria Pont Pérez, Head of the European Projects Office of Valencia City Council. Valencia is leveraging a new approach to music to enrich people’s lives, provide economic gains, and tackle isolation. The city is also tacking issues around opportunity, accessibility and gender that can hamper people’s enjoyment of music and participation in the culture that surrounds it.

Working in music

Many of the fundamental rights guaranteed by Europe can be enhanced through music policy. There are the obvious ones, such as ‘freedom of the arts and sciences,’ and ‘freedom of expression,’ but also some that are less obvious.

As can be seen in Valencia, the right to educational freedom can be bolstered by music policy that focuses on extending music education to all those that would like it. At the same time, the right to work can be better delivered in an environment that supports all kinds of vocations, including musical ones. “It’s not easy being a music professional,” says Ana, “You have to travel a lot, you’ll work during holidays, and the work you do get is often precarious or temporary.”

Innovative approaches to work and training, which are among the fields which Valencia uses music to boost, will be key to this year’s Eurocities Economic Development Forum, ‘Igniting Innovation’ which will be live streaming here from Helsinki on Thursday and Friday morning this week.

Music for all

The idea of having music as a conduit for many fundamental rights extends beyond music as a workplace. Starting with its student population, the city also wants to ensure that creating music can also be a viable activity for people who have no intention of pursuing it as a career.

Many young people want to be involved in music as a form of personal fulfilment and cultural involvement
— Ana Maria Pont Pérez, Head of the European Projects

“There is an expectation in the education system that young people who study music should do so with a view to developing a career in it,” says Ana. “Many young people want to be involved in music as a form of personal fulfilment and cultural involvement, without necessarily making it their profession.” With a view to facilitating this, the city is adapting its educational offer to make music studies more compatible with other courses.

Valencia also makes spaces available throughout its territory for amateur musicians to perform. “There’s a lot of young people involved in this,” says Ana. Many young people belong to musical groups. Valencia boasts academies and private rehearsal and performance spaces, and every neighbourhood has a municipal conservatory.

Careers in music are not just for musicians. “There are dancers, choreographers, technicians, designers, organisers, teachers and staff in the conservatories and academies… really a lot of professionals!” Anna exclaims. Taking all of this into account, music is a non-negligible part of the local economy.

The city wants to ensure that the spaces of music production and appreciation are inclusive ones. “We take care that all the music events in our conservatories are prepared for people with disabilities,” says Ana, “Venues should be as convenient for them to access as for others.”

Valencia is a city of neighbourhoods
— Ana Maria Pont Pérez, Head of the European Projects

Music everywhere

The proliferation and variety of venues throughout the city also ensures that people of any age and background can access music. “Valencia is a city of neighbourhoods,” Ana explains, “It’s local policy to have all essential services available in every neighbourhood, and we include music in that.” Ana also points to frequent festivals and plentiful private infrastructure, which supplements the public offer.

For old and young in Valencia, music provides an opportunity to socialise and combat isolation. “The opera is a big social event for older people, while for the young small rock clubs are very popular,” Ana says. Now the city is trying to create more intergenerational mixing by trying to identify types of music that could prove popular with all age groups, as well as music-adjacent activities such as conferences that could help old and young bond over shared passions.

Music is for everyone – that’s the heart of this policy
— Ana Maria Pont Pérez, Head of the European Projects

“Music is for everyone – that’s the heart of this policy,” Ana insists. “I sing really badly and I play music even worse,” she confesses, “but in this city I can enjoy music every week, from the opera houses to the street, especially on public holidays, music is a part of the fabric of this city.”


Anthony Colclough Eurocities Writer