Amarante in Portugal is home to 54,432 inhabitants with a large percentage of young people. As well as being known as the birthplace of the viola amarantina, the city is also famous for its series of Iberian pipe organs that adorn the historic churches. Amarante's thriving music sector mainly relies on both formal and informal structures such as churches and associations that host philharmonic orchestras, folklore and percussion bands called bombos. Every year, it is estimated that more than 1,200 people within the city, of different ages and backgrounds, participate in amateur music bands. Promoting and enhancing access to music, and providing more opportunities in which to practice, are the direct results of a strong musical education policy.
The Municipality co-produces the majority of the local music events, including the Festas Juhno (June Festivities). By engaging local music associations and the younger community, this festival aims to help people rediscover Amarante's historical and cultural identity through the use of music. For the past five years, a wide range of initiatives and events, such as the Hà Fest, have been designed especially for the youth, offering musical therapy courses, concerts in schools, the making of music instruments with recycled materials and cross-cutting activities mixing music and sport.
Amarante has invested in the music industry as a key enabler for social inclusion in order to stimulate new skills and employment opportunities, particularly within the young population. The Municipality has developed a set of policies supporting local organisations which promote music practices and diffusion. By offering subsidies, such financial support has allowed for the regeneration of cultural venues such as the Amarante Cineteatro. The City seeks to increase promotion of its young creators. The main objective remains fostering creative talents and businesses to further nurture Amarante’s music ecosystem, both at the local and international level.
As a Creative City of Music, Amarante envisages:
- promoting music as a tool for empowerment and active citizenship, notably within vulnerable groups (women and youth), by improving access to musical training starting from nursery and primary schools;
- reinforcing the local music ecosystem with creativity-based initiatives for business and professionalization that broaden opportunities for creators and professionals in the cultural sector, notably through the already existing festivals;
- supporting and promoting cultural activities through dedicated venues, such as the renovation of Amarante Cineteatro, thus encouraging cross-cutting approaches between music, literature and film; and
- establishing a Music Lab for All programme with the aim of having Amarante included within the UCCN as an experimental music lab, offering a context in which to share and disseminate practice as well as building a professional and inclusive music ecosystem.