Issue 24 12/2002

The FolkWorld Editorial

By FolkWorld's Michael Moll

There have recently been news of legislation making the world of traditional music even more difficult. Although in many countries folk and trad music has reached in recent years a better status of recognition than it has had for a long time, the law has often not realised or simply understood what role traditional music can and should play.

In Ireland, most of the well known musicians of the folk music scene have protested against a bill that would seperate traditional music from other forms of arts, by establishing effectively a seperate Arts Council for traditional music. The wider trad music community is opposed to this plan, as this might not be the best way of securing the future of Irish traditional music. It would be more beneficial to finally get away from suggesting that traditional music is something different to the rest of "The Arts", and show that "The Arts" are not seen anymore as superior to traditional music, but as part and parcel. On the positive side, the Irish government promises at the same time more funding, and is supportive for traditional music.

That is apparently different in England. England saw this autumn the launching of a new bill reforming licening laws in Britain. This law affects also live music, making it even tougher for live music to happen in English pubs (FolkWorld reported earlier already about the "Two in a Bar" law). This will affect in particular folk and jazz music. The minister in charge, Kim Howells, is known in the folk scene for being quoted that folk music was "his idea of hell", and he was now accused by the folk scene to turn his dislike of folk music "into a snobbish vendetta against traditional music".

Also in the broad field of politics is the news of the European Youth Folk Orchestra, Eyfo, that will probably cease to exist, as the EU funding from Culture 2000 runs out. This project not only strengthened the profile and awareness of European folk music, but also showcased the very idea of the European Union that there are similarities in the traditions and cultures of the European countries. It is a shame that the funding for such a symbolic project is only available to kick-start a project, but not to keep it going. So Europe will be left with youth orchestras of "the high arts" - classic, baroque, opera etc. - is there no space for a Folk Music Youth Orchestra???

Difficult times for folk music? Not more difficult than it was earlier. However, these news items show that folk music is still far away of bing widely recognised as a form of arts that is to be supported, as opera, classical music and theatre are.


Wishing all of our readers a peaceful Christmas, and a year 2003 that is full of brilliant music,

Your FolkWorld editors.

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© The Mollis - Editors of FolkWorld; Published 12/2002

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