The Voyage of the Drum

Kansas City

Every city has a heartbeat and every culture has a rhythm.

The Voyage of the Drum brings together the member cities of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network in cooperation to share the ways in which the drum is a cross-cultural form of human expression and cultural heritage.

The Voyage of Drum highlights the ways in which music has propelled and sustained cultural identities across history and geography.

The Voyage of the Drum, from the perspective of Kansas City, Missouri USA and the Americas – is the story of the African Diaspora and its critical influence on the development of all unique American Music genres – including, blues, Kansas City swing, jazz, bebop, rhythm and blues, rock & roll, soul, funk, rap, hip-hop, house, neo-soul, and even bluegrass and country music.

The Voyage of the Drum is open to all member cities of the UCCN.

We seek to document and share the ways in which the genre and style of your city’s music and creativity is expressed through the cultural traditions of drumming, especially the musical idioms rooted in the African diaspora, indigenous drumming traditions, or the drumming traditions of migrants and ethnic groups.

UNESCO and UCCN Policy Context

In the context of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCCN), the Voyage of the Drum project promotes the International Decade for People of African Descent (2015-2024), which the UN General Assembly proclaimed in Resolution 68/237 in December 2014.

The Voyage of the Drum promotes racial equity and cultural awareness of the African Diaspora worldwide by highlighting the African influence on the musical genres of the world through the drum and rhythm-based musical projects. This project is open to all cities in the UNESCO Creative City Network.

The UNESCO Creative Cities of Music also prioritized gender and racial equity in the music industry as a major focus for cooperative projects at the 2018 Meeting in Mannheim, Germany and affirmed these priorities through the UNESCO Cities of Music Festivals in Fabriano and Bologna, Italia in June 2019 on the occasion of the 2019 Annual Meeting of the UCCN cities in Fabriano, Italia.

The Voyage of the Drum provides an opportunity to connect the UNESCO Creative Cities Network with other UNESCO and United Nations Programs, including the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Voyage of the Drum: Technical Details

Format: Online videos of pre-recorded musical performances and/or short video documentaries explaining local drumming and musical cultures. 20 minutes running time or less (per City)

Main assumptions of the project:

June 21st, the first day of summer, is known as Fete de la Musique almost all around the world. Each year saw thousands of events organized on this occasion, during which the audience and artists would meet at cultural institutions, clubs, but also in the public sphere. The music could be heard everywhere and was accessible to everyone.

This year’s Fete de la Musique, the UNESCO Creative Cities of Music will host our second annual, online celebration of music around the world featuring indigenous and African drumming traditions and their connection to the music, culture and creativity of UCCN cities.

The difficult situation of the music industry in 2020 during COVID Pandemic provides the challenge to support our traditional musicians and cultural bearers.

On this special day we make sure that all the performers are rewarded and the additional profits from the event are transferred to promote the recovery of music and creative workers around the world.

This year in 2021, we seek to promote solidarity around the world with the people of the African diaspora and to resist racism through the celebration of African and diverse musical cultures. 

The event is an act of solidarity with artists, cities and audiences for the creative recovery of our economy and building anti-racist strategies globally.


The event will be streamed online via the Cities of Music’s Facebook, Instagram and YouTube channels. Information containing all links will also be placed on this website.

Each city that registers for participation in the project will be a curator at an agreed time. Curators set the format (concert, lecture, discussion, performative reading, etc.) and select the performers. They are also responsible for the remuneration of artists, obtaining their image sharing rights and for promoting the event through their channels. Except where necessary, it is preferable to record material earlier in order to minimize the risk of technical problems.

The project length (number of hours) depends on the number of cities that will apply. The event will also include a fundraising campaign for a charity chosen by cities which battles the effects of the pandemic. The execution of the project will be supervised by at least three coordinators whose task will be to solve possible technical problems, respond to comments, and promote the events globally.

Schedule / Important Dates

10 May 2021 – Expressions of interest open via this survey form.

24 May 2021 – Deadline for details

1 June 2021 – Deadline for sending recorded video materials

21 June 2021 – Fete de la Musique – world premiere broadcast (online)

23 June 2021 – Voyage of the Drum Music Conference (online): Education, celebration, and knowledge

Project Leader:
For all enquired about the Voyage of the Drum, please contact Jacob Wagner.