Innovation and experimentalism in cultural mediation: the case of Casa da Musica´s Education Services
Sociologia Faculdade Economia Universidade de Coimbra Porto, Portugal
The role of mediation and mediators on the modelling of cultural practices is an interesting issue for sociological enquiry. In present days, given the growing importance that cultural practices are assuming in urban contexts, the so-called "educational services" of arts organisations assume particular relevance. They represent one of the main tools for the cultural mediation strategies proposed by arts organisations, aiming the attraction, development and guidance of audiences for arts and culture. The education services' activity is in general still deeply anchored to an idea of cultural mediation as "social imperative". This is inspired by French republican's tradition on cultural politics, which highlighted the centrality of a generalised access to art and culture, as a democratization tool of cultural practices and also, in this way, strengthening social cohesion.
This paper intends to analyze Casa da Música - an organisation created during Porto 2001 - European Capital of Culture - as an interesting case study, focusing on the cultural mediation role that has been developed through their Education Services. We'll analyse the sui generis outlines of some of the main projects developed by this Service, which incorporate an "experimental" dimension in what concerns dealing with audiences and working out with them new ways of approaching creativity in music. The paper will discuss to what extent these projects are innovative in relation to dominant and traditional practices of mediation in the music field. Taking this specific case as a point of departure, we will discuss more broadly the ongoing changes in the mediation strategies of arts organisations, namely those working in the music field. The discussion will highlight the way arts organisations strategies are adapting to the ongoing transformations in contemporary music scenes, namely those related with the growing importance of new technologies and the ever-changing relationship between creation and consumption dimensions.