As part of the English Folk Dance and Song Society's (EFDSS) strategic showcase programme, we head to WOMEX 13 - the world music expo - which took place in Cardiff between 23 and 27 October. Three of the EFDSS team (Katy Spicer, Chief Executive; Neil Pearson, Artist Development and Programming Manager; and Sophia Linehan, Marketing & Communications Director) attended the conference, promoting England 's thriving traditional folk music to music buyers from venues and festivals, as well as musicians, from around the world. WOMEX had not been in the UK since 2005, when Gateshead played host, so this was a great opportunity to spotlight folk and traditional music from the British Isles on a world-class platform.
Our 'home away from home' was the Horizons England area in the trade fair at the Motorpoint Arena. Horizons is a partnership that was developed ahead of WOMEX 13 to bring together the wealth of music traditions and cultures from England, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Gathered in The Horizons Village (an area of the Motorpoint Arena trade fair that resembled an English country green, complete with a maypole, haystacks and flower-filled Wellington boots!) all partners celebrated the diverse and extraordinary music from the UK and Ireland.
Delegates were given a 'Horizons England at WOMEX 13' guide and compilation CD, to whet their appetite for the freshest and brightest music on the myriad roots music scene of England. EFDSS created a series of English folk music 'mix tape' download cards, featuring archive recording made on the 19th and 20th centuries, and sample tracks from established as well as up-and-coming artists.
Throughout WOMEX 13 we met with many artists, agents, promoters, venue/festival programmers and organisations. EFDSS aimed to make new and strengthen existing connections that would be useful to the world music and English folk music scenes, as well as to create opportunities for creative artist exchanges.
Each day a couple of artists showcased in the afternoon, and from 9pm descended on the Wales Millennium Centre for back-to-back 'nightcases'.
Four artists showcased under the Horizons England spotlight; Loki Terra, Family Atlantica, Transglobal Underground and, flying the flag for English folk music, the Emily Portman Trio. Emily, with Lucy Farrell and Rachel Newton performed a wonderful showcase!
As well as supporting Emily, we got to see some incredible artists perform, including April Verch Band (Canada), Georgia Ruth (Wales), Fiona Hunter (Scotland), Guillaume Perret & The Electric Epic (France), LAU (Scotland), Ross Ainslie and Jarlath Henderson (Scotland and Ireland), and Amir (Bosnia and Herzgovina/France/Serbia/Austria) to name a few.
Away from the trade fair floor, there was a packed schedule of conference sessions. One that we were particularly excited about was 'Joining The Dots', chaired by Julia Payne of the::hub, on the Thursday afternoon. Julia outlined a new support programme for artists, promoters and producers. Joining the Dots, which is supported by EFDSS, will support game-changing ideas, encourage sharing know-how, and connect people working in independent music.
Horizons partners are Arts Council England, Arts Council Ireland, Arts Council Northern Ireland, Cerdd Cymru : Music Wales (incorporating Arts Council Wales, Wales Arts International and the Welsh Music Foundation), Creative Scotland Scottish Music Industries Association and Culture Ireland. The partnership is supported by British Council, PRS for Music, UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) and the Welsh Government.
Horizons England was produced and managed for Arts Council England and UKTI by British Underground.
Horizons partnership: find out more
EFDSS' Artists Development Programme
Joining the Dots: supporting game-changing ideas
Telling the world about what England's traditional artists have to offer is something EFDSS is passionate about. The next industry events we will be attending are Showcase Scotland at Celtic Connections (January) and Folk Alliance International (February). Find out more about EFDSS' showcasing activities