As numerous panicked think pieces illustrate, many Americans, especially young adults, have grown disillusioned with the fundamental economic and social structures of this country. Senator Bernie Sanders’s 2016 Presidential campaign turned voters’ attention to successful socialized programs such as tuition-free college education and universal healthcare in Scandinavian countries including Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland. But these policies are not the only things the United States could glean from those countries.
Public education in the United States is, undeniably, severely underfunded. As schools struggle to find the resources they need for academics, arts classes are among the first cutbacks taken. Consequently, children and adolescents miss out on crucial early exposure to potential passions and career paths. The ever-evolving music industry in the United States reflects the income inequality which pervades all fields; for every major-label pop star, countless indie musicians rely on menial day jobs to fund their true interests.
While part of the problem lies in the cultural devaluation of music and arts, legislative measures can prove beneficial for both independent musicians and the countries they represent. First established in 1976, Denmark’s Music Act has evolved from providing subsidies for orchestras to partially funding music venues catering to several popular genres. The Danish Arts Foundation also provides grants for Danish composers and songwriters who meet the application criteria, linked below. Several other countries worldwide, such as New Zealand and Canada, have implemented similar programs.
Of course, cultural ambassador programs are not the top priority at this time, and would likely not even be considered by the current administration. But in light of the midterm elections, and the upcoming 2020 general election, it is important that voters think about what kind of a country they envision, and the role that music plays in shaping a country’s cultural identity.
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