Julia Williams
Managing Editor 

Founded in 2017, UNESCO Creative Cities Kansas City is a non-profit organization, which provides arts and culture, diversity and gender equality to its community. 

UNESCO (United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization) was ratified in November 1945 by Missouri’s Harry S. Truman. An international United Nations organization, it’s headquartered in Paris, France. 

As an entity, the organization works across seven categories: music, film, media and design,  astronomy, literature, craft and folk art. 

The program expanded to include a series of worldwide Creative Cities Network in 2004. A little over a decade later, the United States had their first — and only — Creative City Network. 

While Creative City Network entered as an official UNESCO member-state in 2004, U.S. administration removed the country from this organization in 2018. It was not until July 2023, the U.S. re-entered the UNESCO Network. 

Following this seven-year hiatus, Bukeka Blakemore — Deputy Executive Director of Creative Cities Network Kansas City  — said the organization is happy to be back in and participate as a member-state. 

Kansas City Creative City of Music remains the only creative city network within the U.S., and is the only official City of Music, according to Blakemore. 

This City of Music focuses on four main areas: preservation, education, tourism and entertainment. 

Working as an export for musicians internationally — Creative Cities KC continues to showcase its support. Blakemore said recently, the organization has helped musicians travel to Chile, and in return, Chile musicians voyaged to Kansas City. 

In this exchange, musicians receive resources, collaboration with other organizations and exposure through Creative Cities Network. 

Previously, its Kansas City annex has sent musicians to Crystal Ball, Mexico, provided hurricane relief to Islands of Bahamas and contributed to COVID-19 fundraising within Kansas City. 

However, the largest draw toward Kansas City’s Creative City Network, remains the city’s jazz influence. 

As the city where jazz “grew-up” both domestic and international centers look toward this Midwest homebase to emulate jazz forms — particularly swing. 

“As the only city of music in the U.S., other areas look to us as their leader,” Blakemore said. “Now jazz is seen around the world, receiving global attention, which further enables us to do work that expands into culture.” 

Not only has Kansas City Jazz developed an international voice, it has also allowed local culture to foster and established UNESCO as the top associated culture brand, according to Blakemore. 

For those interested in becoming involved with Creative Cities Network Kansas City, the organization plans to host several events within the coming months. 

The first will include a free conference June 18, 19 at the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library. It will include a reception, followed by “Journey of Jazz” concert and Juneteenth celebration. 

June 24 through 26, a free Foresight film and music workshop will be held within UMKC’s Katz Hall. 

For inquiries and additional information on UNESCO Creative Cities Kansas City, contact creativecitykc@gmail.com