Music in a Multicultural Australia: Introduction

by Dr Richard Letts. Published in Music Forum magazine, Vol 19 Issue 1 (November 2012)

Australia is a multicultural society. Like global warming, that is a fact. In the case of global warming, in the matter of factuality, almost all of us have to trust the experts. To know whether Australia is multicultural, we can do our own science. Just step into the street.

Australia is multicultural. So what’s next?

To regret or resist is futile. There is little practical opposition to an immigration program. And the days seem to be long past when anyone at all suggests that all immigrants should be of the same ethnicity.

So what’s next should be the most positive response possible. Nothing else makes sense.

The writers for this special section of Music Forum all see the potential of a culturally diverse population to drive a new vitality and creativity in music and the arts. Their views come from their interests and circumstances. Put together, they present an array of possibilities and actions that we hope, will suggest possibilities for you.

This is a cultural treasure trove for Australia. But it largely is buried treasure. The Samoans can keep their music alive in their own communities, but for economic viability and to contribute to the larger culture, Samoan music has to be easily found by the rest of the population and presented with production values that are expected for ‘mainstream’ genres. It’s not; it’s mostly invisible.

Government support, with the possible exception of Victoria, has been half-hearted and an enormous opportunity passes us by. For that also, regret is futile. Many Music Forum readers are leaders, in a position to take some positive action.

What’s next

Richard Letts

See the index for this issue for the full listing of articles