2019 Survey of the Field of Music as Social Action

Around the world, participatory music making is being used within communities to help ameliorate the effects of various forms of social and socio-economic disruption, deprivation or conflict. This field is currently fragmented and under-theorised, hampered by gaps in dialogue and collaboration between practice and research.

In 2019, Agrigento engaged Dr Gillian Howell as Research Consultant to lead a survey of 13 practitioners, researchers and practitioner-researchers from Australia, Canada, Scandinavia, Sri Lanka, the UK and USA. Collectively, these individuals had experience of a wide range of music as social action programs and contexts, including community music, El Sistema-inspired programs and projects within schools, post-conflict settings and centres for people experiencing social exclusion.

This summary report provides an overview of knowledge shared by the interlocutors captured under four themes: (1) what do exemplary music as social action programs look like; (2) what appear to be the critical change mechanisms linking music action to social change; (3) what are some of the current gaps in provision and knowledge that we can address, and (4) what are the challenges affecting program implementation and sustainability that we may struggle to change.