The Music, Language, and Culture Workshop

April 7: Mateo Mulcahy

This week we are delighted and honored to start the Spring Quarter with a presentation by Mateo Mulcahy, Director of Community Projects and Events, Old Town School of Folk Music. His presentation is titled: “Awareness, Deep Engagement, and Sustainability: Presenting Endangered Musics to Audiences in Chicago.”  Please see abstract and bio below.

We will meet in our regular place at our regular time: Thursday, April 7, 4:30-6:00pm in Godspeed Hall, Room 205. As always, our workshop is open to the public, and all are welcome.


As programmer of World Music Wednesdays and the Global Dance Party series at the Old Town School of Folk Music, Matthew “Mateo” Mulcahy works to bring endangered music, artists, and traditions from around the globe to U.S. audiences. These musical traditions are those in danger of extinction or assimilation, surviving through only a handful of practitioners or cultural standard bearers for their communities. This presentation will discuss the challenges that emerge from programming endangered musical practices. One challenge is to develop blueprints for presenting and raising awareness for endangered arts in a meaningful way. This entails identifying artists, facilitating and producing tours, and developing performance and educational residencies. A second challenge is to create financial opportunities such as pursuing grant funding and developing budgets. A third challenge is to develop promotional strategies and community outreach. Discussed will be how to meet these challenges through deep engagement, defined as artist engagement that includes activities which reach a diverse demographic through performance, education, collaboration, and exchange in a variety of settings and locations with a substantive media footprint. Mulcahy argues that endangered arts will only survive if there is an audience to support them. Since many artists in isolated communities have increasingly fewer opportunities to express their arts in their own communities and rely on the broader world community to sustain their arts, presenters and consumers of ethnic arts have a responsibility to create the infrastructure and audiences to sustain and preserve them for future generations.

Mulcahy holds a B.A. in Spanish/International Development from Washington University. He has worked in the music entertainment business for more than 30 years in many different capacities: radio host and producer, video documentary producer, concert promoter, DJ and DJ business owner, live music venue owner and manager, talent buyer, musician and vocalist in salsa groups. Since 2006 he has worked as the Director of Community Projects and Events at The Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago. At the Old Town School Mulcahy is responsible for supervising all community and outreach projects including the World Music Wednesday Series, Field Trips, Thursday World Music Workshop Series, Global Dance Party Series, and other initiatives that engage new audiences. Mulcahy also manages partnerships, international exchange, and residencies with institutions and organizations at the local, national and international levels, producing over 100 concerts a year for the School.  He has previously served as a panelist for MIDSEM in 2010, 4° Encuentro de las Artes Escénicas in Mexico, MICSUR in Argentina, FIMVEN in Venezuela, and for grant applications with the National Endowment of the Arts, Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, and the GlobalFEST Touring Fund. In 2013 he curated and co-produced a 12-episode televised series, Musicology: Live From The Old Town School Of Folk Music, which aired in partnership with WYCC PBS Chicago.

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