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Music in international development: The experience of Concerts Norway (2000-2018)

Solveig Korum of the Faculty of Fine Arts at the University of Agder has submitted her thesis entitled «Music in international development: The experience of Concerts Norway (2000 -2018)» and will defend the thesis for the PhD-degree Tuesday 29 June 2021. (Photo: Kulturtanken / Lars Opstad)

This study shows how Concerts Norway and its local partners contributed to strengthening cultural infrastructure in these countries, especially in the concert, festival, and educational fields. Yet, a close look at the operational mechanisms of these projects reveals that their framing as “development” initiatives narrowed the scope of their potential agency. The current development system, despite its good intentions, is imbued with outdated binary conceptions and inherited colonial hierarchies, in addition to a result-based management approach that does not work particularly well for the arts.

Solveig Korum

PhD Candidate

The disputation will be held digitally, because of the Corona covid-19-situation. Spectators may follow the disputation digitally – link is available below.

 

Solveig Korum of the Faculty of Fine Arts at the University of Agder has submitted her thesis entitled «Music in international development: The experience of Concerts Norway (2000 -2018)» and will defend the thesis for the PhD-degree Tuesday 29 June 2021. 

She has followed the PhD programme at The Faculty of Fine Arts at the University of Agder, with specialisation in popular music performance.

The doctoral studies are funded by the Public Sector Ph.D. scheme at the Research Council of Norway (NFR), where NFR and Kulturtanken (a governmental office for art and culture aimed at children and youth) have funded 50/50 each.

 

Summary of the thesis by Solveig Korum:

Music in international development: The experience of Concerts Norway (2000-2018)

This article-based doctoral thesis contributes to the multifaceted debate concerning the role of music in “development.”

By development, I refer to the international aid sector and the deliberate actions of states and/or development agencies to promote equity between various localities and between social groups or classes in the Global South, previously referred to as developing or third world countries.

Development studies is an academic field of its own, but it is interdisciplinary in nature, due to heterogenous understandings of what it means and what it takes to create such equity. 

Arts development vs general development assistance

Applying an academic lens that bridges development studies with musicological thought as well as peace studies and postcolonial theory, my work addresses questions about “arts development” versus general views on development assistance in a bid to unpack a particular asymmetry between mainstream development models and the need to strengthen—and therefore empower—the arts sector in the interests of its sustainability.

There are, in fact, perpetual tensions between “two opposing professional paradigms: the largely intuitive, practice-led world of the arts and the increasingly evidence-based, bureaucratically driven approaches of international development” (Dunphy 2013: 3).

Music as a development tool

This study examines how these tensions were negotiated by Concerts Norway (Rikskonsertene), a governmental music organization and key cultural partner of the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, between 2000 and 2018.

In this period, Norway branded itself as a pioneer and principal international funder of cultural expression as a tool for development, based on a distinct twin-track policy seeking to value the social utility of art as well as the art itself.

My thesis offers an academic exploration of the ways in which three musical development projects were initiated and conducted by Concerts Norway together with local partners in Palestine, India, and Sri Lanka. The origins and development goals of these three projects differed, in the sense that they were each based on distinct geographical contexts and needs. Yet, many of the key program features were the same.  

Success and limitations

This study shows how Concerts Norway and its local partners contributed to strengthening cultural infrastructure in these countries, especially in the concert, festival, and educational fields.

Their collaborations furthermore facilitated the transfer of artistic and technical skills, as well as the documentation and preservation of intangible heritage. They were also deemed to be successes by external development evaluators.

Yet, a close look at the operational mechanisms of these projects reveals that their framing as “development” initiatives narrowed the scope of their potential agency.

The current development system, despite its good intentions, is imbued with outdated binary conceptions and inherited colonial hierarchies, in addition to a result-based management approach that does not work particularly well for the arts.

I therefore argue here that the mainstreaming of these musical activities as development limited rather than enhanced their potential furtherance of equity.

A proposal for a new framework

A central theoretical contribution of this research is a “post-development framework for music and social change”—that is, a proposal suggesting how a rethinking and restructuring of such projects might contribute to a more humane and fairer global (art) world.

The framework pays particular attention to local assessments and processes of change. It urges stakeholders and artists to continuously—and reflexively—analyze their own positions, identities, attitudes, and power relations within the project’s structure, as well as its musical repertoire, teaching methods, and performance arenas. It also opens up for a wider assessment of development “results” than what is currently undertaken.

Disputation facts:

The trial lecture and the public defence will take place online, via the Zoom conferencing app (link below)

Dean Marit Wergeland, Faculty of Fine Arts, Universitty of Agder, will chair the disputation.

The trial lecture Tuesday 29 June at 10:15 o'clock

The Public Defense Tuesday 29 June at 12:15 o'clock

 

Given topic for trial lecture«Hybridity, modernization, heritage? Discuss the ideologies involved in planning trans-national music events»

Thesis Title: «Music in international development: The experience of Concerts Norway (2000-2018»

Search for the thesis in AURA - Agder University Research Archive, a digital archive of scientific papers, theses and dissertations from the academic staff and students at the University of Agder.

The thesis is available here:

https://hdl.handle.net/11250/2759602

Article I and III are cut off the thesis, because they are accepted, but not yet published. They will be put into the thesis when they are published. 

 A full copy can be obtained from the Faculty of Fine Arts before the disputation - contact Kai Steffen Østensen.

 

The CandidateSolveig Korum (1984, Oslo) BA European Studies, University of Oslo/ Caen (2006), MA African Studies, University of Oslo/ Dakar (2007). Thesis title: “L’enseignant sénégalais face au programme d’histoire du second cycle: perception et pratiques en classe” (skrevet på fransk). Present position: Senior adviser R&D at  Kulturtanken, Oslo.

Opponents:

First opponent: Professor Alf Arvidsson, Umeå University, Sweden

Second opponent: Researcher PhD Marika Nordström, Umeå University, Sweden

Professor Michael Rauhut, Department of Popular Music, University of Agder,  is appointed as the administrator for the assessment commitee.

Supervisors in the doctoral studies were Professor Tor Dybo (main supervisor) and Professor Stan Hawkins (co-supervisor)

What to do as an audience member:

The disputation is open to the public, but to follow the trial lecture and the public defence, which is transmitted via the Zoom conferencing app, you have to register as an audience member:

https://uia.pameldingssystem.no/disputation-solveig-korum

A Zoom-link will be returned to you.

(Here are introductions for how to use Zoom: support.zoom.us if you cannot join by clicking on the link.)

We ask audience members to join the virtual trial lecture at 10:05 at the earliest and the public defense at 12:05 at the earliest. After these times, you can leave and rejoin the meeting at any time. Further, we ask audience members to turn off their microphone and camera and keep them turned off throughout the event. You do this at the bottom left of the image when in Zoom. We recommend you use ‘Speaker view’. You select that at the top right corner of the video window when in Zoom.

Opponent ex auditorio:

The chair invites members of the public to pose questions ex auditorio in the introduction to the public defense, with deadlines. It is a prerequisite that the opponent has read the thesis. Questions can be submitted to the chair Marit Wergeland on e-mail marit.wergeland@uia.no