Published on March 21, 2017 | by Krystin Lucas Photography by Wavelength Music Festival0
The Sound of Social Change
With music being an easy way to spread important messages to a wide audience. it inspired Toronto’s own Wavelength Music Festival to try and unite the music scene with the message of positive social change. Uniting music and art is how many people choose to communicate.
Co-founder Jonathan Bunce started the Wavelength Music Festival in 2001 as a way to celebrate the organization’s annual anniversary festivities. But this year he decided to try to make the festival a little more empowering.
“We’re just responding to what we see as [people’s] desire to do something and contribute to positive social change,” says Bunce.
To inspire positive social change, Bunce invited both musical artists and social activists to come out to the festival. Artists included Vallens, Hush Pup and Emay. Each activist’s social discussion was followed up by a performance from a socially conscious artist and ended with an audience question and answer period.
Bunce says the positive change could take time but that won’t deter him from similar initiatives, “I feel that bringing people together to discuss such topics always has a positive impact, and the new connections that come out of it are the most valuable result.”
Artists are pushing to create pieces of music that deliver a message; as it’s the easiest way to reach a large audience, “the music and arts are currently among the strongest forces in favour of progressive values in the world right now…so it’s important to balance the focus on business with social responsibility,” says Bunce.
But Humber College’s music, meaning, and values professor, Mark Whale advises people to be cautious, “if the political message is a good one, and [it’s coming from] a celebrity, people are going to listen…but remember that it can also work the opposite way, if it’s the wrong political message people [will still] listen.”
Looking deeper into an artists lyrics is something that Whale strongly encourages. Without listeners’ knowledge, the messages artists send through song are subconsciously sinking into our minds, “they’re feeding messages to people who may not even be thinking about those things being discussed…so listen close.”
Similar to Bunce’s goal, Paola Gomez, a human rights lawyer, and political activist, also uses music and art to discuss social messages. Gomez co-founded Sick Muse Art Projects as a way to work with youth by providing quality arts educated while integrating discussions of social justice.
After moving to Toronto from Colombia, Gomez felt safer and protected. Being grateful for the opportunity to come here, “I feel like my responsibility is to continue using my voice and my art to discuss oppression and other social issues.”
Because of her passionate artistic expression and social activism, Gomez was honoured by the city of Toronto in 2016 with the Constance E. Hamilton Award on the Status of Women.
When she got the call, “Suddenly, I felt…energy, it was not about the award, it was about knowing that someone’s life was better and that even if I don’t change the world, if I can show one more person that justices exist, then I should continue doing it.”
Gomez is evidence that using music and art as a way to spread important messages can have positive social change. Both Bunce and Gomez desire to keep uniting the arts with social change.
To find how you can get involved with Sick Muse, visit www.sickmuseartprojects.org