David Byrne Blasts New York

...and the decline of its "invigorating energy"
David Byrne

David Byrne has penned a new opinion piece, bemoaning the decline of New York as a creative capital.

Born in Scotland, David Byrne came of age in New York. An art student in the city, its unique blend of bohemia helped to trigger the nascent Talking Heads into action.

Living and working in New York ever since, David Byrne has recently become dis-enchanted with the city. Bemoaning the loss of the "invigorating energy" so central to New York life, the songwriter contrasts it unfavourably with large, finance-led cities in the Far East.

The piece was published by Creative Time Reports and The Guardian, and discusses a significant shift in the city's spirit. "The city is a body and a mind – a physical structure as well as a repository of ideas and information. Knowledge and creativity are resources. If the physical (and financial) parts are functional, then the flow of ideas, creativity and information are facilitated".

"The city is a fountain that never stops: it generates its energy from the human interactions that take place in it. Unfortunately, we're getting to a point where many of New York's citizens have been excluded from this equation for too long. The physical part of our city – the body – has been improved immeasurably. I'm a huge supporter of the bike lanes and the bikeshare program, the new public plazas, the waterfront parks and the functional public transportation system. But the cultural part of the city – the mind – has been usurped by the top 1%."

Later, Byrne compared New York to cities such as Hong Kong. "If young, emerging talent of all types can't find a foothold in this city, then it will be a city closer to Hong Kong or Abu Dhabi than to the rich fertile place it has historically been," he writes. "Those places might have museums, but they don't have culture. Ugh. If New York goes there–more than it already has – I'm leaving."

Finishing, David Byrne argues that there is still time for New York to re-claim its artistic essence. "Can New York change its trajectory a little bit, become more inclusive and financially egalitarian? Is that possible? I think it is. It's still the most stimulating and exciting place in the world to live and work, but it's in danger of walking away from its greatest strengths. The physical improvements are happening – though much of the crumbling infrastructure still needs fixing. If the social and economic situation can be addressed, we're halfway there. It really could be a model of how to make a large, economically sustainable and creatively energetic city. I want to live in that city."

Read the full feature HERE.

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