Scene and Unscene: Revealing the Value of the Local Music Scene in Savannah, Georgia

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Throughout human history, music has been central to the fabric of society. Music is a powerful form of communication, it helps us relate to one another, make sense of the world, and commemorate moments together. Yet, music is often perceived as an extraneous element in a local economy (Markusen 2003), and the occupation “musician”—with the rare exceptions of those who achieve mainstream recognition—often conjures images of the starving artist or delinquent idler. What if the value of a local music scene could be made clear from an economic and cultural perspective? What is the value of a local music scene in establishing an identity of place? How can a city facilitate the conditions for a local music scene to exist and thrive? Although music plays a key role in a city’s creative and cultural life, a local music scene is too often overlooked as a driver for economic and community development. Through ethnographic research, this study uncovers the collective needs and vision for the future of the local music scene in Savannah, Georgia and proposes a framework for action.

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