Boston Blatte

Raised in Boston, remade in Sweden

Roma band to Almedalen: We beg your pardon

Over in the news section of The Local, an article’s headline proclaims: “Beggar symphony to play at Almedalen”

roma musician

The Roma in Sweden have been in the Swedish news quite a lot of late. (quick search on TL for “roma”)Mostly, it’s about the influx of beggars, who are primarily from Romania. The new trend is tight on the heels of discoveries of police registers by the Swedish police of Swedes of Roma ancestry. And then there’s the political spin featured by the ├╝ber nationalistic Sweden Democrats.

In other words, mention ROMA, Romanians or beggars and you’ll get people’s attention.

The project, Tunnelbanan till Almedalen, will bring a dozen Romanian street musicians to Sweden’s largest political event, Almedalen, to perform Sweden’s national anthem. They will play on Tuesday, the day the Sweden Democrats are hosting. Yep, we’ve got some political posturing going on, and nicely chosen if you ask me.

The estimated cost to transport and house the (all-male?) band to Almedalen = 15,000SEK. The funding source? Crowd funding.

That’s all good. The more we get the everyday Svensson involved the more awareness we raise and the stronger the message becomes.

However, the cynic in me walks on the scene when I read that its organizer, Max Valentin, an entrepreneur (yay for entrepreneurs) is the founder of the crowd funding site of choice; Crowdculture.se. What has read as an act of socio-political activism now starts giving off whiffs of promotional/guerrilla marketing.

My comment “Sounds more like a marketing ploy to promote his crowd-funding site. If he really wanted to bring them there, 15,000 would be peanuts to write off as a company cost.” was challenged by Max Valentin on Twitter.

When I pointed out that he via the promotion of his site would benefit from the attention, he clarified:

I applauded Max Valentin for his effort to address his critics and to stand his ground on his cause. We agreed that a continued public dialog would be beneficial. I expect he’ll be available and amiable to address comments.

While I like the idea of the Metro to Almedalen, I still have issues with it, e.g.

1. Street musicians and begging are not intrinsically linked.
2. Playing the Swedish Anthem is provocative, yet are the musicians Roma from Sweden? There are two issues; bigotry and resentment towards the ethnic Roma in Sweden and the public view of Roma from Romania coming to Sweden to beg. Is there an advantage or a disadvantage to conflate them?
3. Most (if not all?) of the Roma musicians are men. Yet we see as many women trying to eek out an existence.
4. Is sensationalizing the topic going to do more than get headlines?
5. The crowd funding site asks for repeat donations. What else will the money go for if the 15,000SEK is exceeded?

What are YOUR questions?

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