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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 4. A-CLD: Production of Subjectivities in the Festival-Machine


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The festival-machine is a particular type of social technology that has played a central role in the production of the folk aesthetic system. The success of A-CLD requires an understanding of the ways culture workers can develop programs that plug into currently existing social flows. While this may seem rather abstract on the surface, I believe it is necessary to develop comfort with this complex language. A-CLD is complex work that requires creativity, healing, confidence development, and capacity building to be successful. Culture workers must navigate individual, social, and economic issues simultaneously and develop an awareness of the continuity that connects individual development to social machines. I draw from the work of Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari to theorize social flows of becoming. They provide a language of complexity that fits with the complex theoretical requirements of A-CLD work. In the next two chapters, I explore a festival as a case study to illustrate the complexity of creativity, healing, and community building that is at the core of successful festivals. In this chapter, I focus on the social machine of the festival structure itself. The festival, built a certain way, can be a social machine for the production of the negation of negation. It can work against the alienation of life under predatory anthropocene and can help people learn about building integrated community spaces that connect to environmental ← 55 | 56 → responsibility. The following...

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