Heritage and reinventing the wheel

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Trends come and go in cycles, it seems. In a recent conversation with some colleagues, we reflected on the fact that emerging artists of African descent are not always familiar with the work that was done before their time in the spotlight. For some of us, it is interesting to observe the way that folks try to reinvent the wheel, when it has already been spinning or turning for ages.

This is not to suggest that each wave of artists doesn’t bring something new to the table. Changes in modes of communication, technology and other similar things are bound to have some influence on the approaches used by different people in different eras.

Perhaps it would be helpful to have more documentation of events and ways of working as they happen, so those who have new things to present can have a clear idea of what their innovations might be.

In the aforementioned conversation, I mentioned www.tradingfacesonline.com – a platform that was designed and built by Future Histories, to document 200 years of Black British performance history. I composed music for several parts of the website, which went live in 2008. Does there need to be an update? Do we need more websites dedicated to this subject? Who is taking responsibility for the ongoing documentation?

Fortunately, we do have some erudite scholars who are taking note of events as they occur. But it seems like we also need some popularisers, who can take the information out into the education system on all levels, so our young people can be made aware of our newly developed heritages.