A High Forecast for Music

A High Forecast for Music

The last days of May brought the first sprinkling of rain for this wet season. It was quick and barely enough to be considered real rainfall, but the usual smell that immediately fills the air right after water splatters over dry, dusty earth, was enough to make many of us want to run to the hills and sing for joy—or just sing for more rain. Anticipating this rainy season may be a mix of emotions because while we are beyond ready for Mother Nature to satiate our rivers, farms, dams, private reservoirs, gardens, and just about everything, we also know that this hurricane season may also behave in new and extreme ways. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) expects that there is an 85% chance that we will have an above normal season in the Atlantic with a total of about 17-25 storms. Okay, we do not need that much rain but a few cozy afternoons and cool nights do sound nice. While we wait for that first actual downpour to clear up the aerosols and shine up the sunlight, there are a few things that we can start singing about. In truth, there is always plenty to sing about in Belize; just ask the birds. But in particular, we can hum and buzz about the official launch of the Belize Tourism Board’s (BTB) Music Tourism Strategy.

Yes, we have a Music-Tourism- Strategy. The BTB has launched its blueprint for catapulting local artists and local musical artistry to new heights and new harmony.  This strategy will deliberately and strategically support the cultural sector to position Belize as a globally recognized music destination. When people visit a destination to see a live music performance or festival, enjoy their favourite musical artists, and explore the place during their stay, it is called Music Tourism.  To craft its plan for developing this aspect of Belize’s tourism product, the BTB partnered with Sound Diplomacy, a global company that creates research-based, data-driven strategies that ensure that creativity and economics intersect. Businesses and policymakers will receive a guide on how to harness artistic ingenuity within their communities for sustainable growth across sectors. The BTB started working on this plan back in 2022, and now that the ink is dry, stakeholder meetings have been launched across major towns.  The meetings and action plan are being held in collaboration with the National Institute of Culture and History (NICH). Thanks to the benchmark and comparative analysis conducted by Sound Diplomacy, we have the core framework for four key areas: music tourism development, music production, supporting artists and SMEs, and fostering live music and festivals across the country. Speaking of music, tourism, and country, the annual Belize International Music & Food Festival is just around the corner.

Tickets are already on sale and pop-up events are well underway. The Belize International Music and Food Festival proves the point of the Music Tourism Strategy. This annual festival helps to drive local tourism, it inspires international visitors to visit specifically for the musical performances, and it is a boost to the local economy. More indelibly, the festival promotes all genres of local music and gives Belizean musicians the opportunity to perform their original pieces, in front of a home audience, and among their peers from the international musical community. The value of Belizean music is immeasurable since there is no price big enough for our identity and culture; however, a strategy that helps more local artists to follow their dreams, create more music, and improve their livelihoods within the context of the tourism industry is a calculated win for everyone. While we wait for the rain to come and for our chance to sing in it, we can rest assured that the forecast for more Belizean music is high.

Chat again later.

Jasmine Anderson

For the Belize Tourism Board