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Music as a tool for social change – Good Intentions what outcomes? On quality and evaluation of music projects with an socio-cultural impetus

This session dealt with many different aspects surrounding the question of whether it is possible to measure the social impact of music projects and if so, then how?

It was moderated by Erling Aksdal, who in his introduction highlighted the dichotomy of music having an intrinsic value as well as a cultural value, which includes the ability to contribute to social change.

The first speaker, José Castiñeira de Dios gave a remarkable speech posing many thought-provoking questions to the audience, such as: If we use musical practices as social instruments, are we forgetting the main value of music as a particular expressive language with no other objective than human expression? Furthermore, do we expect too much of music and musicians, if we ask them to solve social problems society is not able to solve?

Rebecca Lee referenced her own work as a consultant and practitioner with experience in evaluating national and regional arts projects in the UK. She  explained clearly the use of participatory approaches in evaluation and spoke of heir value in arts and community work. View full presentation here.

Closely related to the first issue Eugene Skeef presented in a moving presentation the transformative power of music in a socio-cultural context. Using examples from his own experiences, he also pointed out the difficulties of applying formal Western structural analytical principles to a creative form such as music for social change. View full speech here.

Olivier Urbain presented different ways of measuring the social effects of specific musical activities, for example through interviews, surveys and analysis. He emphasised the importance of collecting facts and figures for the use of successful advocacy work and therefore argued that a balance was needed between results gathered through participant evaluation and hard factual evidence. View full presentation here.

The session was rounded off with an open discussion in which several comments and questions raised by the audience to which the speakers delivered detailed answers. One striking point for example made by a participant was, that "change" facilitated by music may not necessarily always be "good change" and therefore the term "social change" must be used carefully.


Video of the Good intentions what outcomes? session

Photos by Vahur Lõhmus. All rights reserved.

Video by Marek Vilba. All rights reserved.


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