An ambitious 5 year long research project has launched to investigate ways to increase and diversify participation in English folk singing.
Access Folk asks:
- What is the place of folk singing in contemporary England?
- How do people want to engage with English cultural traditions through song?
- How can we facilitate participation in folk singing in England?
Folk singer and researcher Dr Fay Hield at The University of Sheffield is leading a team of academics and community partners to work together to identify the current problems and test out potential solutions.
Access Folk is built on co-production principles where the people affected have real power to direct the research and will trial and evaluate new approaches in collaboration with the wider folk singing scene.
They are looking for people who would be interested in actively taking part in designing research to address issues faced by folk singers and organisers to join their Consulting Groups. These Groups will draw knowledge together to advise the Access Folk Board. The groups will be focused on specialist areas (drawing on the ‘protected characteristics’ outlined in the Equality Act 2010 and priority areas from Arts Council England) – including:
From Left to Right – Dr Fay Hield, Helen Grindley & Esbjörn Wettermark
Anyone over 18 with ideas or experience that feed into the specialist areas can join the Consulting Groups. The team are looking for professional experience and marginalised lived experience in particular, though all with an interest are welcome.
“Since the height of the folk revival in the 1960s,” the Access Folk website explains, “we’ve seen a major decline in folk clubs and fewer people taking part in other folk singing events in England. There is little indication that many new people are finding their way into folk singing communities. With Brexit and growing discussions of the impact of colonialism and empire on culture and national identities, it is also a time for many people to question what Englishness is and how they can connect positively with this national cultural identity.”
In the coming months there will be opportunities to get involved through a folk singers’ survey to understand what existing singers get out of it and an events survey to see where folk singing is
happening. They will also be recruiting for ‘ask a friend’ activities to explore the experience of people who don’t currently sing. People are invited to sign up to the Newsletter via the website for more information.
More information about Access Folk can be found here: accessfolk.sites.sheffield.ac.uk/about
Further information about the Consulting Groups can be found here: accessfolk.sites.sheffield.ac.uk/activities/consulting-groups/call-to-action
To speak to the team, please contact: accessfolk.sites.sheffield.ac.uk/contact