An Education to Citizenship: A Major Challenge for the DEMOS Project

Friday, October 15, 2021 - 12:00pm to 1:00pm

Gilles Delebarre

Of the three terms forming the French national motto - liberty, equality, fraternity - it would seem that the last one is the most likely to be respected, bolstered, strengthened with the greatest efficiency by a voluntary approach of artistic education. If, for everyone, acquiring basic knowledge has an obvious social usefulness, that is probably less true about artistic skills, which yet give access - via emotion - to human depths which are identifiable within oneself and in others. From our standpoint, artistic education - as long as it is viewed as such and that actions are structured with that aim - is a lever to develop young citizens' empathic abilities and to prepare them to favor, as adults, what unites us to "make humanity" together. And if artistic education has a social usefulness, this is what we mean to emphasize in this communication. We shall see how Démos, which is a system with a social vocation (for children from working-class districts, aged seven to twelve), means to use the symphonic orchestra as a tool to act on divisions, splits between different categories of population. We shall also show that this approach can only take effect if the program of activities places symphonic music as a World music like the others and that it is compared to other practices representative of the complex cultural identities which form our contemporary societies. Gilles Delebarre is deputy director of the Education department at the Philharmonie de Paris, in charge of the Démos project. This cultural democratization project consists in teaching classical music to children aged 7 to 12 who, for economic, social or cultural reasons do not have ready access to this art form from existing institutions. It aims at rising innovations and stimulates thinking about musical education in France. Before the launching of Démos in 2010, Gilles Delebarre contributed to a broader educational program, including musical awakening for small children and musical practice for a large audience (traditional, amplified, and contemporary music). This talk is part of a transatlantic LLecture series organized by the Bass Connections Team "Performing Embodied Communities: New Paths for Cultural Institutions."

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