Mudcat Café message #3884210 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #162917   Message #3884210
Posted By: GUEST,Chris Wright
24-Oct-17 - 05:05 AM
Thread Name: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
I've given this a great deal of thought in the last ten years, so here's my two cents (distilled into a couple of short paragraphs to save my sanity!):

Folk music has become increasingly professionalised and institutionalised, and this is continuing at a seemingly accelerating rate. This in turn has produced a self-reinforcing process whereby emerging musicians and singers who want to play professionally (usually self-identified as 'folk' musicians) have increasingly learned to take their cues from the worlds of high art and popular culture as opposed to folk culture, this partly being demanded by the criteria of funders and broadcasters. The folk music industry's increasingly insatiable thirst for novelty has created a commodity which privileges the *performer* and their *product* - since these are the most easily packaged and transmitted - over the communicative *process* that folk music facilitates, and which is limited by participation in a small, face-to-face group setting.

The prevailing philosophy among the movers and shakers in the industry also appears to be that syphoning public funds for the popular presentation of folk music on television, again on the terms of the broadcasters, will somehow lead to a kind of 'trickle-down folkonomics', thus encouraging take up in musical traditions. While it *might* be true that it's helped popularise instrumental folk music to some degree, it certainly hasn't done anything for traditional singing, as there are very few young Scots/English singers in Scotland, not to mention almost no young *male* singers, and very very few *good* young singers. Part of the reason might also be that there's an incredible lack of genuine critical dialogue in the folk music industry itself, leading to some very mediocre performers with high-self confidence, and very little self-awareness. The bottom line is that there's no industry analogue for the casual apprenticeship that characterises the pedagogic tradition in folk culture.

The above reasoning was why I became very dissatisfied with the offerings at EFC and stopped going; I'm not sure if it's changed direction in the intervening years. Instead, I decided to found a different sort of club, where participation was central, and where professionalism was irrelevant. That's how The World's Room started in 2012.