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Tami Door on Make Music Denver, the arts scene -- and one group's call for boycott

Since the early '80s, residents of cities around the world have assembled on June 21 in their individual town centers in celebration of World Music Day. The event is known here as Make Music Denver, and tomorrow our music-centric community will come together with over 300 musicians playing their hearts out on the 16th Street Mall throughout the day. We caught up with Tami Door, CEO of the Downtown Denver Partnership to discuss Denver's featured role in this international event, along with the Denver Musicians Association's concerns that Make Music Denver performers are volunteering to play.

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Westword: What role do you feel music plays in bringing a community together?

Tami Door: Music really brings a spirit to a city. Whether we're celebrating, honoring someone or mourning a loss, music brings people together around a common platform, regardless of where you come from. The Downtown Denver Partnership does countless music events every year, but what's unique about this event is it's community-driven. The musicians are coming forward and saying, "This is our gift to the community." We're celebrating music for the sake of music.

And this exposes different bands and styles of music to people who might not have otherwise known about them. It also puts Denver on a world stage, because our event is part of a much broader world-wide event that happens each year on this day. Over 100 countries and 520 cities participate, with musicians performing for and engaging with the community.

Over the last decade Denver has developed so many programs to support the arts -- but would an event like this have been possible twenty or thirty years ago?

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I think so. Denver has had such good success in the arts, and then that success has bred even more success. So I think what you've seen in the last few years is Denver building on the base it's already had. The more we've told that story the more artists and musicians moved here, and they've flourished. The story is being told on a bigger scale now. At last year's event, Denver was highlighted at the culmination event when they took clips from all the different events from around the world. So that's over 100 countries and 520 cities taking a look at what Denver is up to.

And what made that possible is us going out and funding a platform for local musicians to perform. This is a non-profit event -- it's free for everyone. We provide the funding, the permits and the stage to celebrate music and give a gift to community. And they can leverage that in the future, for their own business or just their love of music.

I understand the Denver Musicians Association is asking for a boycott of Make Music Denver because the event does not compensate the musicians.

Right. And that's because this event is all volunteer-based. In order to be part of the global initiative, that's the format for the event. If musicians would like to play, it's entirely up to them. We put a call out to the community, explaining that this is World Music Day, so if you'd like to play, it's open to you. We had over 160 bands and over 300 musicians respond to that call. Frankly, I don't understand the boycott. Musicians love it, and are coming out of the woodwork to play -- and that's not even counting the amateur musicians who will randomly show up to play.

Everything's free. The only cost of the event is on us. We're paying for this so people have a place to play. This is a giant open mic, and we're providing the technology and the marketing. Make Music Denver will sound off all day Friday, June 21, along the Sixteenth Street Mall. All performances are free. For more information, visit www.makemusicdenver.com. Follow me on Twitter at @JosiahMHesse.

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