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Scott Booker sees big changes coming in Oklahoma City’s cultural landscape

The head of ACM@UCO and manager of the Flaming Lips sees Oklahoma City becoming a hub of the music industry.

BY GENE TRIPLETT Published: April 28, 2013

Scott Booker thinks in terms of the arts — and music in particular — when he envisions the bright new world of Oklahoma City in 2033.

This is not surprising considering he managed a ragtag psychedelic pop band from Oklahoma City called The Flaming Lips that grew from underground nobodies to a Grammy-winning rock act with a major-label recording contract and a worldwide following. Then Booker was chiefly responsible for launching the first U.S. branch of Britain’s Academy of Contemporary Music right here in Oklahoma City under the auspices of the University of Central Oklahoma.

“I think the biggest change is going to be in the cultural landscape,” Booker said, “where we actually become, as a city, more inviting, more open to, really, youth culture in a sense ... like in Austin, Texas, where there’s a lot of young people that are working there at software companies, etc.

“I think the same thing’s going to happen here because of the expansion of the music scene and the fact that there are people here making movies and there’s more of the arts-oriented businesses that are branching up here. I think that opens the door wider for people that are in other kinds of businesses to want to come here.

“So I see a real expansion in — ‘entertainment’ is almost too easy a word for it — but just the overall kind of a cultural change in the way we look at music and film — and even food. I mean, think of what restaurants were like 20 years ago versus what they are now. I think we’re going to see a healthier place, I think not only for our bodies but for our minds, as well.”

Booker envisions a great deal of physical change coming for Oklahoma City, as well, especially in and around the downtown area.

“In my neck of the woods, which is down in Bricktown, you see the difference of what happened with the first MAPS and what Bricktown is now,” he said. “I think you just draw a circle that goes 10 miles around downtown Oklahoma City, and we’re going to see a major change in what people live and spend their time in downtown and in the Bricktown area.”

Booker sees changes coming to the MidTown and Film Row districts, and the old warehouses that line the stretch of Sheridan running east from Bricktown to Martin Luther King Avenue.

“I think that’s going to be a brand new entertainment district down there,” he said. “I think there’s going to be some great venues. ... So many people are looking for that 1,000- or 2,000- or 5,000-seat venue here that doesn’t exist. I think those things are going to pop up here in the next few years if not the next 20, where we have more facilities to be able to do greater shows.”

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