David Byrne: "If The 1% Stifles New York's Creative Talent, I'm Out Of Here"

Patrick Lyons

by Patrick Lyons

Published October 8, 2013


Former Talking Heads frontman David Byrne has a bone to pick with New York City. In an op-ed posted yesterday by Creative Time Reports and The Guardian, Byrne airs some of his qualms with his longtime home's recent pattern of wealth distribution (or lack thereof). Speaking in terms drawn from the Occupy movement's rhetoric, Byrne alleges that "the cultural part of the city... has been usurped by the top 1%," and even threatens to leave NYC if the problem keeps up.

As he previously did in his book How Music Works, Byrne recalls an era when New York City was an affordable and culturally relevant home for artists of all mediums, when he and his bandmates lived in "cold water lofts without heat" in the Lower East Side for next to nothing. Byrne described the city as "a center of cultural ferment," but believes that this type of hardship does not necessarily "make for good art," but was rather "the price one paid for being in the thick of it."

But the singer says things have changed for young creatives currently living in New York. Byrne even goes so far as to say that the increased importance that NYC has placed on financial sector has lead to "no room for fresh creative types." Addressing the rise of Wall Street, Byrne wrote:

A culture of arrogance, hubris and winner-take-all was established. It wasn’t cool to be poor or struggling. The bully was celebrated and cheered. The talent pool became a limited resource for any industry, except Wall Street. I’m not talking about artists, writers, filmmakers and musicians—they weren’t exactly on a trajectory toward Wall Street anyway—but any businesses that might have employed creative individuals were having difficulties surviving, and naturally the arty types had a hard time finding employment too.

Comparing NYC to some of the "less antagonistic" locations around the world (Stockholm, Copenhagen, the whole of Iceland), Byrne imagines how the city's arts could be stimulated by either the financial sector's vast wealth, or the government ceasing to view large banks as "too big to fail."

On a less optimistic note, Byrne sees how New York could quickly become akin to financial hotspots like Hong Kong or Abu Dhabi, which according him "might have museums, but they don't have culture." If this becomes the case, Byrne is leaving. Though he admits that NYC is "still the most stimulating and exciting place in the world to live and work," he believes the city is in danger of losing not only its reputation, but also David Byrne.

Read the full article by following the link below, and hope for a future in which New York is still David Byrne's home.

Source: Creative Time Reports

David Byrne
Business Humanitarian Politics
Send Feedback

Hand-Picked Music for Your Taste

Follow artists, discover new music, and personalize your music experience.
Registration and login will only work if you allow cookies. Please check your settings and try again.

Web Analytics