The Brisbane Declaration

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'2020: a Sharpened Vision for the Musical World'

Paris, June 30, 2014 - As an international gathering of over one thousand music professionals, the 5th IMC World Forum on Music has invited, planned, heard, experienced, discussed, debated, consulted and taken notice of over one hundred presentations from all over the world highlighting different aspects of the 'ecosystem' of music in the second decade of the twenty-first century.

Now, its organisers and delegates would like to contribute to a sustainable, vibrant and diverse musical life on the planet with the following declaration, incorporating seven key domains: community, education, institutions and public authorities, technology, the music industry, musicians' rights and the media. These seven domains strongly align with the IMC's Five Music Rights. The Brisbane Declaration, below, links these to an updated overview of the state of affairs – progress made and challenges remaining – of music in the world today.

1) Musical expression in and across communities

Aware of the importance of communities of all kinds, we embrace wholeheartedly the expansion we are witnessing of the concept of community to include not only geographical, ethnic and class-based groups but also global communities, transcending traditional boundaries and nourishing diversity through their support for particular music styles and genres. We applaud communities and individuals of all kinds who are harnessing music's power to break down divisions and challenge intolerance, particularly in situations of struggle for social change, in conflict zones or as part of post-conflict resolutions.

At the same time, we urge all those involved in music, or in a position to influence its development, to bear in mind continually that community engagement (in the broadest sense) is at the core of virtually all vibrant music traditions. Moreover, it has a potentially strong role in forging a sense of identity and cohesion.
[First IMC Music Right: 'For all children and adults to express themselves musically in all freedom']

2) Musical learning in a global context

Appreciating the wealth of opportunities that now exist across much of the world for people of all ages to learn how to play and/or create music in all its manifestations, we welcome the formal and informal structures and pathways that have been created by individuals, communities, organisations, and governments addressing the entire spectrum of engagement with music: from basic skills to high levels of artistry.

At the same time, with resources under strain across a world struggling to emerge from financial setbacks, we caution against the 'easy savings' thought to be made by discontinuing support for music education. We invite a renewed commitment both to the continuous development and reshaping of existing structures and pathways and to the creation of new opportunities, fit for purpose and sensitive to context, for those who do not yet have access to music education or learning possibilities.
[Second IMC Music Right: 'For all children and adults to learn musical languages and skills']

3) Sustaining musical diversity

Acknowledging the robustness of many musical styles and genres, we take notice of the high esteem and prestige enjoyed in many regions of the world by all of its diverse musics as different expressions of people's sense of identity, community, tradition, and the very essence of their humanity.

At the same time, we call attention to the potentially detrimental effect of extra-musical factors such as intolerant belief systems, rapid social change or even, in some cases, technological developments. Whether deliberately or otherwise, any or all of these have the capacity to impact negatively on the sustainability of many musics, especially those that are intrinsically more vulnerable through the small numbers of musicians practising them. We signal a crucial role for public authorities in preserving diversity in our musical environment and in ensuring that access to music takes into account the value of such diversity for present and future generations.
[Third IMC Music Right: 'For all children and adults to have access to musical involvement through participation, listening, creation and information']

4) Technology and the development and communication of artistry

Observing the rapid rise of technology as a key force in musical lives, we acknowledge its positive role in aiding the dissemination and accessibility of live and recorded music, enabling new ways of learning and creating music, and democratising more than ever before people's engagement with music. We encourage equality of access to this potentially liberating musical tool.

At the same time, we recognise that when technology is used in ways that lead to a uniformity in our musics, it may have the effect of endangering diversity, replacing a sense of craftsmanship and creativity, and diminishing the essentially deeply intimate and human exchange that characterises the most profound musical experiences.
[Fourth IMC Music Right: 'For all musical artists to develop their artistry and communicate through all media, with proper facilities at their disposal']

5) Musical artistry and the music business

Noting that the music business is undergoing continuous transformation, we compliment the creative minds on both the business and music side for developing new models and avenues for music as a business, providing increased room for niches and greater interplay between digital presence and live performances.

At the same time, we feel it is important to monitor continuously the nexus between commercial and artistic interests so as to ensure that music continues to resonate as a source of cultural enrichment for all and, while needing to provide a secure livelihood for those engaged in it, remains a domain which invites experiment and risk within the creative processes.
[Fourth IMC Music Right: 'For all musical artists to develop their artistry and communicate through all media, with proper facilities at their disposal']

6) Music-related rights in a global context

Noting the fact that the rights related to all aspects of music making are honoured to a greater or lesser extent in many nation states, we commend public authorities, relevant rights organisations and the music industry for their efforts to ensure that all these rights are upheld and, where necessary, reinforced.

At the same time, we urge countries where such rights are not realised to place rectifying this on their agenda, engaging in dialogue with all stakeholders in order to address implementing them as a priority and making due acknowledgement of the portion of responsibility that each party bears in bringing this about. We also invite continued vigilance in those countries where most structures are in place to ensure that these rights are fully implemented, and that they are defended in the face of rapid and continuous change.
[Fifth IMC Music Right: 'For all musical artists to obtain just recognition and fair remuneration for their work']

7) Musical recognition and the Media

We welcome the continuing interest that the news and entertainment media, as providers of the major interface between audiences and music makers, take in music and all it entails. We recognise the increasingly influential role they play in building audiences' awareness, curiosity, familiarity, and loyalty with particular musics and musical artists.

At the same time, we remind those with influence in this sphere of the dangers of catering only to high-volume markets, as well as those of an excessive emphasis on personality and stardom - a tendency of which examples may be observed across all levels of artistic activity.
[Fifth IMC Music Right: 'For all musical artists to obtain just recognition and fair remuneration for their work']

In directing our vision towards 2020, we feel it appropriate to call for focus, clarity and farsightedness in the ways we work together to build our musical futures.
The world of sound contains so much that is enriching, challenging and stimulating to our senses; we urge everyone who has felt the impact within their own lives of a musical encounter - in whatever medium, genre, context or region of the world - to join us in ensuring access to music for all, sustaining it in all its diversity for future generations and supporting the worldwide realisation of the IMC's Five Musical Rights.

5th IMC World Forum on Music
November 2013


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