Evaluating the potential of El Sistema in Britain

Posted on: January 6, 2014

In Friday’s (1/3) online issue of The Strad, Jonathan Govias writes, “With the British government investing millions of pounds into the development of a national El Sistema network while simultaneously enforcing a policy of austerity, the new question emerging about El Sistema in England has become: ‘Is it worth it?’ But precisely like the past big question about El Sistema—whether it should be adopted or adapted—this inquiry also ignores the fact that there’s no conclusive answer yet to what precisely ‘it’ is. … Good intentions have yielded extravagant promises: this is the Sistema that will eliminate crime, lift millions out of poverty, or close the class divide. … This idea, this promise … remains largely uncharted territory in practice. … The British government’s funding of Sistema programming through the In Harmony initiative may have raised questions in some quarters, but internationally it represents a comparatively rare example of prudent government investment. … There is a time limit, and there remains the accountability concomitant with all public monies, but if the programmes focus their resources on asking the right questions, there may well prove to be no limits to the system.”

Posted January 6, 2014