The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #121041   Message #2638354
Posted By: sian, west wales
22-May-09 - 06:08 AM
Thread Name: Culture doesn't include Trad Music
Subject: RE: Culture doesn't include Trad Music
I work for trac, the traditional music development agency for Wales, as some here may know. It isn't unusual for some people within the genre to sniff at the work we do with government and government agencies purely to keep traditional music "on the table". I have to sit through an awful lot of meetings with civil servants and local authority people; as often as not, I've had to pull in a few favours just to get invited to them!

Despite the critics of this element of our work, I honestly feel it pays off. But it also means marshalling the forces behind us. We started out with a conference of all the trad music associations plus folk activists in 2003 which produced The Gregynog Declaration. We all then used it as an Addendum to every application we made to any body. We also encouraged other social development enterprises to use it in _their_ applications. We already had 'friends' within the Arts Council for Wales (BTW - when you write "Arts Council" please say "of England"; we have no UK-wide council) who had helped us get some Revenue Funding. I guess we've done an OK job because, when ACW decided to write a new Music Policy they remembered to include Traditional Music as one of their Consulation Groups. The Proceeding of the meeting (same website as above, on 'News' page) then led to ACW specifically naming Traditional Music within the policy and priorities (not a HIGH priority, but it's in there!)

I should also mention that the meeting didn't 'just happen'. We held a preliminary meeting a month before hand of trad music activists and wrote our own paper describing our genre and sketching out some development needs. We also kindly offered to organize 'expert witnesses' for ACW and ensured they were 'our kind of people' but also with government gravitas. (David Francis from Scotland, Paul Flynn from Northern Ireland Arts Council)

One committee I've devoted a lot of time to over 10 (gasp!) years is the National Assembly's Cultural Tourism Partnership. We've finally come to a point where ACW wants to try out a Music and Cultural Tourism initiative, led by them, and starting off with Trad Music as it's focus. It, too, is primarily a Marketing strategy but will have to include some professional development for musicians. They're going for European "Atlantic Arc" funding and, of course, may not succeed. But we're in there because we've been playing the government game and the big agencies, like ACW and Visit Wales (formerly Wales Tourist Board) now have trad music actually named in their paperwork.

OK - I also expect that, being the wee fish in the big pond, we may also soon suffer from the credit crunch. High Art has a lot more friends at court that we do. Still, it's a game worth playing and it may be worth having a go yourselves ...