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Folk music investment 2009-11

  • Date: 10 February 2010
  • Artform: Music
  • Area: London
Looking for a New England CD cover Looking for a New England CD cover, design by David Owen

As the crest of the current folk revival continues to rise, 2009 was unmistakably an exciting year for English folk music. With both world-class artists and exciting young performers attracting interest and breaking into the mainstream, there is an increasing array of key work that we have supported, and have planned for the future, to continue to help challenge perceptions and nurture English folk music.

In early 2009, following a period of research and consultation with the folk music industry, we identified four key priority areas where our investment could support the future growth of the sector:

  • artistic development
  • sectoral development
  • communications, information and advocacy
  • education and learning

In response to this the English Folk Dance and Song Society (EFDSS) have now become one of our regularly funded organisations and have been allocated a total of £400,000 of regular funding to support the national development of the folk industry in 2009/10 and 2010/11. This funding will enable EFDSS to become a national development agency for folk music and set up a number of exciting new initiatives and partnerships with other organisations that will advance, strengthen and enlarge the UK folk industry.
 
‘This award is recognition of the achievements we have made over the past two years and so is highly gratifying. Arts Council support will enable us to continue this development more rapidly and more extensively.  We are very excited and greatly looking forward to the work now ahead of us.’
Katy Spicer, Chief Executive, EFDSS
 
‘We are delighted to be investing in EFDSS over the next two years to support its ambitions to be a national development organisation. This is a very exciting time for folk music, with a generation of world class artists influencing a new set of young performers who are challenging perceptions and attracting wide audiences and media interest. Our investment will build on the EFDSS's iconic status to create a national programme of artist and audience development, industry networking, training and increased opportunities for children and young people.’
Susanna Eastburn, Director of Music Strategy, Arts Council England

The consultation also identified a number of other priority areas such as recording support and international development, as well as raising the profile of traditional dance to name a few. Our music team in London has been working closely with industry professionals to develop a number of strategic bids to our Grants for the arts funding programme to develop some of these areas.

In October 2009 we worked in partnership with fRoots Magazine to produce Looking for a New England - a showcase CD and guide to the English folk and festival scene. This formed part of the Arts Council led British Music at Womex Showcase, and was distributed for free with the November-December 2009 issue of fRoots Magazine. The CD showcases new folk music, with established artists such as Chris Wood alongside emerging artists including Dogan Mehmet and Gadarene.

This project has already resulted in interest from prestigious showcase events such as South By South West (SXSW) in Austin, Texas, who have invited England to host the first ever showcase focusing solely on new English folk, and we are currently working with representatives from the agency British Underground to develop this. Through a unique partnership between ourselves, fRoots magazine, English Folk Dance and Song Society, British Underground and Sound and Music, several of the artists showcased on Looking for a New England will be performing at South By Southwest 2010 (SXSW). The annual SXSW Music and Media Conference takes place in Austin, Texas from 12 - 21 March and is one of the key networking and showcasing events for the music industry, showcasing nearly 2,000 musical acts from around the globe on over 80 stages. Find out more about the artists from Looking for a New England going to SXSW

Looking towards next year, it’s not just folk music that we will support. Other advocacy events recently funded through Grants for the arts include 5000 Morris Dancers presents, an alternative and humorous view of Englishness with a cross art form event organised by Playpen Management working in partnership with EFDSS and the Southbank Centre.

These are just some of the examples that illustrate our current work and investment in folk music. As we enter a new decade, our support remains strong and continues to grow. Looking forward over 2010/11 we will continue to work with EFDSS, British Underground and other key partners in the industry to help support and nurture exciting new work across the English folk sector.