Music4Coop festival in Cáceres, Spain, to highlight role of music in community

The project aims to develop a new ‘European music co-operator’ role to promote sustainable development

A three-day festival of music and co-operation is being held from November 8-10 in the city of Cáceres, in Spain’s autonomous community of Extremadura.

The event is part of Music4Coop, a Europe-wide initiative aiming to strengthen the co-operative mindset in the music sector for local rural development. Music4Coop is led by Wazo Coop, an Extremadura-based co-operative that brings together the social and solidarity economy and cultural industry for the benefit of rural communities.

Music4Coop is setting out to develop a new professional role in the European music industry – “music co-operator”. These professionals would work with community stakeholders to promote sustainable development in rural, low populated and remote areas of Europe through music and co-operation, with a focus on worker co-ops.

Marta Lozano Molano, Wazo’s president, said: “It’s complicated to imagine because it’s not very common. But there are two dimensions [of this work] – to advance the rights of workers in the music industry, and at the same time for musicians to be useful in the community.” 

After Covid, it is important that the music sector keeps playing a role in the development of rural areas, said Molano, adding that they are “trying to find an equilibrium in all of these areas”.

The three-day event in Cáceres will host 20 aspiring music co-operators from Italy, Portugal, France, Spain, Sweden, Belgium, Lithuania, Hungary, Norway, Netherlands, Ireland, England and Poland. These participants have been selected based on their work in music performance, composition, education, and entrepreneurship, as well as cultural project management and co-operativism.

A number of organisations will also be there in the role of “local co-operators”, including: the Cultural Creative Industries Association of Extremadura, Cáceres City Council, Official Association of Architects of Extremadura, Aldealab Knowledge Centre of Cáceres,  ConPartes Coworking Space, Athenaeum of Cáceres, Toc Toc Co-Operative and Vostell Art Museum Malpartida. 

These individuals and organisations will come together to learn about how they can develop sustainable music co-operator roles within their local contexts, including ways to become financially and socially sustainable. A manifesto and a toolkit for music co-operators will also be shared at the event. Alongside training, the festival will feature concerts, exhibitions and talks.

Molano explained the short, medium and long-term impact they hope this project will achieve. “Knowing about worker co-operatives [means] you can improve your rights at work, because as soon as you found your own co-operative, it’s instant. It’s very important to have the social protection of the workers that [often does not happen in the music industry]. 

“In the medium term, we imagine that these European music co-operators can be a driver for local development, so they will be important in these rural or low populated or small communities. 

“And in the long term, we would love to have a critical role in growth and innovation at a local level.”