The Power of Music in Raising Awareness and Breaking Barriers

A couple of weeks ago the Shared Societies Blog ran a story on Expressing Social Inclusion in New Ways. The story highlighted art and culture as other paths to social inclusion and it focussed on the Day-Mer Culture and Arts Festival which took place in North London, where the Turkish and Kurdish Community came together to celebrate their community but also to engage with the London Community at large. The main objective of this festival is to promote collective life in the UK and inclusion of immigrant and indigenous workers. Through Art, Culture and Music we can help to reduce tensions and hostility between communities and work towards social inclusion.

This time our focus is on the power of music as a means of raising awareness and sending powerful messages to the world. Velarde, an Aymara musician from Bolivia has always been fascinated by music, which he now uses to create awareness and to show to the world what Bolivia is as a country. He reminisces about his childhood and the times where playing indigenous Aymara music was the only means of being acknowledged as an indigenous ethnic group in Bolivia. Velarde talks of times when the Aymara people were grossly marginalized and discriminated against to the point of not being allowed in the city. This experience and the treatment of the Aymara people had a big impact on Velarde’s father and he forbade playing folk music in his home.

However, during the 1960’s political unrest in Bolivia, the folk music of indigenous people inspired people to protest against the Bolivian government’s power. The ethnic music of the Andes brought Bolivian people together.

Today, Velarde uses music and photography to produce musical documentaries about Bolivia and he actively promotes awareness of Andean musical culture.

Do you agree that art, culture and music can foster social inclusion? Do you have any stories similar to Velarde’s? Let us know what your thoughts are and what similar experiences you might have had.

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One comment

  1. isabelamartin says:

    I think music and the arts are such a great way to inspire an appreciation for other cultures. That’s an important step toward fostering social inclusion in general. Another parallel I can think of is food. Although maybe superficial, I think that for a lot of people an easy way to think about the value that minority ethnic and immigrant groups bring to a community is through its food and restaurants. They add color and diversity to a society and give people the opportunity to try new things. It’s a similar story with music, art, and literature. Any way to get people to appreciate the value of diversity rather than the “burden” of having minorities or immigrants within your community is worth trying, and having music and cultural festivals like this one sounds like a great way to do it.

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