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Playing for Change

Music Festivals as Community Learning and Development


Michael B. MacDonald

Playing for Change – performing for money and for social justice – introduces a critical pedagogy of arts-based community learning and development (A-CLD), a new discipline wherein artists learn to become educators, social workers, and community economic development agents. Challenging the assumption that acculturation into a ruling ideology of state development is necessary, this book presents a version of CLD that locates development in the production of subjectivities. The author argues that A-CLD is as concerned with the autonomous collective and the individual as it is with establishing community infrastructure. As a result, a radical new theory is proposed to explain aesthetics within arts movements, beginning not by normalizing music cultures within global capitalism, but by identifying the creation of experimental assemblages as locations of cultural resistance. This book offers a new vocabulary of cultural production to provide a critical language for a theory of anti-capitalist subjectivity and for a new type of cultural worker involved with A-CLD. Drawing from a four-year study of thirteen music festivals, Playing for Change forwards A-CLD as a locally situated, joyful, and creative resistance to the globalizing forces of neoliberalism.
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Chapter 3. Foucauldian Genealogy of Folk as the People and Aesthetic Multitude


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Continuing a limited discussion of folk music as heritage music or mass-produced folk product will ensure that our academic discussion continues to vacillate between “preservation” and “authenticity.” But this is no longer enough. Music scholars can no longer turn a blind eye to the economic and social disintegration occurring around the world because we hold onto a mistaken belief that we have no role to play and nothing to say. But how do we proceed? There are lessons to be learned from the strategies developed and employed by Western Canada folk festivals and home cultures. Individuals have taken it upon themselves to create cultural organizations for the benefit of their communities. But these strategies remain undocumented and under-theorized. Complex social experiments are taking place with stunning regularity, and experimental economic and social infrastructures are being produced to support home culture production, with astounding results. But all of that seems to be invisible from the perspective of scholarship. Perhaps it is time to get beyond the “whitened” notion of folk music to see the responsibility we share in sustaining local culture, all local culture, everywhere. Perhaps we should begin to call local, independent, and socially responsible cultural expression aesthetic multitude, regardless of what it might look or sound like. ← 31 | 32 →

Aesthetic Public Pedagogy

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