Since the height of the folk revival in the 1960s, we’ve seen a major decline in folk clubs and fewer people taking part in other folk singing events in England. There is little indication that many new people are finding their way into folk singing communities. With Brexit and growing discussions of the impact of colonialism and empire on culture and national identities, it is also a time for many people to question what Englishness is and how they can connect positively with their national cultural identity.
For folk singing to remain relevant in 21st century England, new singers and enthusiasts need to engage with both the music and the meaning of a shared English identity. To that end, the Access Folk research project is exploring ways to increase and diversify participation in folk singing in England.