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We had a chat with Anna Gustavsson about why Swedish folk musicians should stand up against racism. She and we at Export Music Sweden will be at Womex’15 in Budapest this week to meet folk and world music lovers from all over the world, starting tomorrow.

Hi Anna Gustavsson, could you tell us in short what ‘Folk Musicians Against Racism’ is about?

It is a grassroots organisation that started in 2010, right after the election were the leader of the far right party wore a national costume when entering the Swedish parliament. Since then we have been coordinating people involved with folk culture in Sweden in a common struggle against racism and xenophobia, showing that folk culture is for everyone. At this years WOMEX we are coordinating a network meeting open for all womexians called “Change The World Through Music”.

How can music change the world?

Music and culture are some of the strongest ways to connect people. Even if you don’t speak the same language, the connection through music is universal. I have experienced that playing music on demonstrations and similar places. It helps people to stay calm. I have, only the last months, seen many fantastic initiatives that are on this very subject, like charity concerts and people collecting instruments for refugee camps. There are so many ways music can make a better world!

Why is an organization like this needed?

I’ll answer that with a line from our flyer; ‘We do not want Swedish folk culture to be appropriated by racist and nationalist movements, causing all practitioners and lovers of Swedish folk culture to be perceived as supporting nationalist and xenophobic cultural views.’

Do you in any way collaborate with similar organizations in other countries?

We know of some similar organizations in other countries, like Folk against Faschism in the UK. There was a meeting in Umeå some years ago were this type of organisations from different countries were represented. A lot happened since then. I think that we can teach and inspire each other and I hope that more of these organizations will be represented at this years WOMEX so that we have a chance of meeting and planning more collaborations. I would be very glad to know more initiatives that we can learn from and collaborate with!

At last, thank you for contributing to a better world!

Thank you. I would also like to give big thanks to Musikcentrum SWEDEN, RFoD and WOMEX for making it possible for us to be represented at this years WOMEX!

Read more about WOMEX here>

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