Instrumental' playing? Cultural policy and young people's community music participation

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Over recent years, young people's participation in small‐scale, locally based arts activities has increasingly come to be viewed by policy‐makers as capable of playing a valuable role in both re‐engaging ‘at‐risk’ youth with mainstream education and providing a means through which communities might combat social exclusion. For some commentators, however, the political imperatives underpinning this approach sit uncomfortably with the multifarious uses and ambitions of creative youthful cultural participation, leading some to criticise the adopted approach as an ‘instrumental’ use of the arts. Presenting findings from three youth‐based community music projects set in the north of England, this paper explores some of the ramifications of current policy relating to the community music participation of young people, particularly those considered ‘at‐risk’. The analysis reveals ways in which such use of cultural policy can have a negative impact on participatory activity, leaving community music projects in danger of missing their at‐risk target.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)71-90
Number of pages20
JournalInternational Journal of Cultural Policy
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2009

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