Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Is lower Broadway the right location for the National Museam of African American Music and More on the Redevelopment of the former Nashville Convention Center.

This is a Special joint meeting of the Metro Council Budget &Finance, Convention, Tourism & Public Entertainment Facilities and Planning, Zoning & Historical Committees regarding redevelopment of the former Nashville Convention Center on April 20, 2016. I have only watched part of it and may not get around to watching it all. I hope those in decision making position and those seeking public office are watching this and paying attention.

Near the start of the meeting, there is a presentation about the National Museum of African-American Music. A long time ago, I stopped believing in projections about how much any project, public or private would contribute to the local economy, so I am taking their claim with a grain of salt.

It appears we are giving space valued at $10 million to the museum.  This would need to be confirmed.

Initially, the project had a fundraising goal of more than $43 million, but that was reduced after the city offered up the convention center. In 2006, the city committed $10 million toward the project, and Dean says the city's commitment still stands.(link)

If someone can enlighten me, I would still like to know: Is the museum being given space or leasing space in the redeveloped site? What is the value of that space? Other than the loss of income we could have gotten for the space, (if we are giving the space or discounting the space) is there any other Metro contribution? Did we give money to the Country Music Hall of Fame or the Song Writers Hall of Fame, or any other museums in Nashville? How did Nashville end up with this museum?

While I wish we would have gotten the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and am pleased we are getting this music museum, it does seem like Nashville would not be the first choice. I know we have the history of a the Fisk Jubilee Singers and that Nashville was a center of Black rock music in the 50's and 60's but compared to Detroit or Memphis or New Orleans, Nashville ties to Black music do not seem as strong. Did we out bid other cities? Are we giving away the store to get this?

Below is a statement from the NMAAM website.
As the only museum dedicated to all dimensions of African American music, The National Museum of African American Music (NMAAM) will showcase over 50 music genres created or impacted by African Americans, honor the legacy and legends of this diverse music and detail the impact this music has on musicians and consumers around the world.
From the time the United States was a colony, African Americans have created, innovated, performed and otherwise participated in the process of music making. In fact, without argument, it can be stated, that African Americans have provided the most significant cultural inputs in the development of American music. The National Museum of African American Music celebrates their tireless efforts and triumphantly boasts of the historical impact made around the world.
As a pilgrimage museum, NMAAM will draw upon a range of music and history enthusiasts to explore and celebrate African American music. The museum will tell the story of genres, instruments and vocalists that have shaped and influenced music around the world providing a platform for a national and global landscape to celebrate and honor the legacy and legends.
For more on the NMAAM, see this link, and this link.

Frankly, I do not think Broadway is a good location for this museum.  For one thing, there has been a long history of Black music on Jefferson street and that part of town could use the redevelopment. Also, I don't think a lot of African-Americans are going to be spending a lot of time or money in the Country Music honkytonks of lower Broadway.  And another concern I have is that I do not want the famous honky tonk strip of lower Broadway to lose its identity as a county music honkytonk strip. Also, Lower Broadway is very expensive for a new venue to open their doors.  If this museum was located on Jefferson Street where rent is much cheaper, it could lead to new music venues featuring Black music.There would be room to grow on Jefferson.  I hope this is not a done deal and too late to reconsider.

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