#Erasmus500 Policy Insights: Elena Smirnova
Association Européenne des
Conservatoires, Académies de
Musique et Musikhochschulen, AEC
The glitz and glamour of the music world affected by poverty and inequality
The Association Européenne des Conservatoires, Académies de Musique et Musikhochschulen (AEC) is the cultural and educational network of 300 member institutions in the field of higher music education. The AEC aims at promoting international cooperation, implementing a range of educational and cultural projects for defending the interests of music students and professors at the European level. Elena Smirnova, new office member of the AEC, tells us about the importance of #Erasmus500, as well as sheds some light on the current issues music students are facing during their exchange programmes.
As the leading voice of higher music education in Europe, the association encourages the internationalisation of the sector and the mobility of students, staff and teachers through various European and regional mobility programmes, including Erasmus. The AEC believes that a fair and adequate Erasmus grant is essential to encourage music students to be mobile and to support their basic needs while taking full advantage of their life and studies abroad. 500 euros is therefore a reasonable financial amount to widen the outreach of this unique life opportunity to a larger number of music students that would otherwise be excluded from this European programme, until now somehow elitist. In this very peculiar moment we are living, music and performing arts have been particularly hit by the social restrictions due to the pandemic. Music students, whose income often depends on live gigs and concerts, should be taken in special consideration and benefit from any financial support available.
Music students’ problems related to lack of sufficient financial resources are manifold. Apart from the evident fragile status of students from the financial point of view, music students need additional resources for purchasing, repairing and transporting their music instruments which could be quite considerable for youngsters lacking in a fixed income and aspiring for an international experience.
Secondly, the participation and/or organisation of concerts, festivals and music competitions, which is a necessary and unavoidable part of the music students’ life, also require a lot of financial resources, however these events are not always affordable for music students during their Erasmus mobilities. Therefore, it is essential to provide them with an opportunity to get enriching experiences without being discouraged because of their financial status. Inclusiveness and equality should be at the core of education; hence it would be not only reasonable, but necessary to provide music students with an opportunity of self-development and mastering their skills during the Erasmus+ mobility regardless of their financial status.
Another point would be that students’ initiatives such as the establishment of their own music groups or music recording are associated with considerable costs and a huge amount of time. We believe that it would be more reasonable for students to invest their time and scarce financial resources in initiatives related to their careers and professional development rather than gaining money on less qualified or music unrelated jobs. Therefore, a financial contribution of 500 euros could be a significant step in supporting music students undertaking a semester abroad.
Music students moving to the unknown country during the Erasmus+ semester or year cannot rely anymore on the network established in their home countries enabling them to organise some gigs or concerts, which is in some cases the only source of income. This is why, additional financial support is needed for students in order to provide them with an opportunity to learn and build new connections, but also to prevent depression, the feeling of exclusion, as well as other concerns stemming from an unstable financial status.
Finally, apart from a mental health perspective and the obvious need for covering transportation, maintenance of music instruments, as well as participation in music competitions, music students could be the key actors of social responsibility strategies while promoting the rights for education and culture, organising free concerts for the general public or specific concerts for children, elderly or ill people in the hospitals, thus bringing some light into lives darkened by a routine, awful diseases and anxiety. We need to support music students to enable them to spread joy, inspiration and belief in a better world in accordance to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs), and in particular the 4th UN SDG “Quality Education” and the 10th UN SDG “Reduced Inequality”. It is our responsibility to ensure the quality of higher music education through internationalisation projects by helping music students to feel themselves an integral part of society, having the same rights and opportunities regardless their financial status, and to address the poverty and inequality affecting the music world.
The #Erasmus500 campaign provides such support and therefore the AEC and its members fully support it.
18 August 2020