Often referred to as the Manchester of Sweden, Norrköping (pop. 140,000) bears witness to a rich and diverse musical scene covering genres from classical and electronic to new and modern music. It is home to the Arbisteatern (Arbis Theatre), the country's oldest amateur theatre stage and the Norrköping Symphony Orchestra. Founded in 1912, the Orchestra is one of the most renowned in Scandinavia, consisting of 85 musicians and, in previous years, hosting many distinguished conductors such as Herbert Blomstedt, Okko Kamu and Franz Welser- Möst. The city possesses a heavy-set musical education system and an industry represented by 500 musicians and 300 established music enterprises, generating an annual turnover of US$28.9 million.
At the core of the city's cultural life, music events are celebrated year-round. ‘Where's the music?’ (WTM) is a platform for new music – part music festival, part music conference – showcasing a hundred artists, as well as gathering music industry stakeholders to discuss current trends in the sector. The Bråvalla Airfield pop-rock festival is one of Sweden's largest events, having previously headlined internationally renowned artists and bands such as Kanye West, Kings of Leon and Muse. It is a socially responsible and environmental-friendly event which attracts an average audience of 50,000.
The Musikhuvudstaden programme, framed by the Trade and Industry Department and Vision 2035, provides the current policy guidelines to make cultural and creative industries part of Norrköping's urban development. The first initiative to be undertaken will be to renovate the old concert hall Hörsalen into a music hub for young artists and students. The programme also finds in music an important lever for social inclusion and has supported the migrant community with employment opportunities within the sector.
As a Creative City of Music, Norrköping envisages:
- supporting cultural and creative industries with new dedicated spaces for creation, production and dissemination, particularly within the Kreativa Norra Staden (Creative Northern Part of the New Cityblocks);
- placing music at the core of the urban development strategies through the project Musikhuvudstaden;
- uniting creative forces and encouraging entrepreneurship within the region of Östergötland;
- organising free, or low fee, music education for young talents from other Creative Cities to foster international student exchanges;
- sharing best practices with other Creative Cities, particularly on music technology, AR or VR ventures; and
- involving other Creative Cities in the global project Gårdagens Morgon (Yesterday's Morning).