All Cultures Are Equal, But Some Cultures Seem More Equal Than Others

Submitted by Peter Åstedt

All cultures are equal, but some cultures seem more equal than others. Right now, this hasn’t been truer than ever. Here in Sweden, we have an Opera House that is over a hundred years old. Of course, the house is totally nonfunctional by today’s standards. Also, it hasn’t been looked after, the pipes are leaking and the whole house is like a nonstop building site.

To rebuild the house would probably be one of the most expensive costs that have ever been done for an Opera House. In light of the fact that several other cities like Gothenburg have brand new Opera Houses, with the latest fashion, they are also talking about building a new opera house, central in Stockholm of course. Then that will cost a lot of money, almost the same as renovating the old one. But probably with a better result.

A lot of voices are raised about this. Or let’s say a few culture fanciers. A big city is nothing without an Opera House, someone said. At the same time, I just saw a documentary about Café 44, one of the few stages for punk, rock, and pop shows. You could almost compare it to the Swedish version of CBGBs. Never got any bigger money from the government and the guy that has run it is now retiring to be totally poor. The impact that this place had on the Swedish music wonder is so much. In the program artists like The Hives, Backyard Babies, The Hellacopters artists that had huge success abroad, that trail blazed many of today’s stars. Now name a Swedish Opera star? No, probably you can’t. There are some but of course, they are just famous for other cultural fanciers not to a larger audience.

Here they are willing to put so much money into one house that we could easily have a hundred Café 44’s inside Stockholm. The fact is that there are almost no places left in Stockholm to play live music. Stockholm is probably the worst capital in the world for culture. So, you wonder why can’t put the opera house in the suburbs where it would be cheaper? No, no, no, this is a culture that is more equal to other cultures. This must be in the total center of the city, even though numbers shows that there are more shows and more people visiting Café 44 than the Opera House.

I think both art forms should exist, but the hijacking of some art forms seems to be more than others is not ok. I just saw a Symphony Orchestra doing disco hits just to get an audience desperate to get more figures to be able to get more of the money, at the cost that young and new artists have no place to play or even start a live career. This happens when most funds and government organizations think that digitalization should fix the problem. Just put the new music into web three. You can just see that with that you going to get bad EDM like most of Spotify’s playlists. That kind of music thrives on digital channels but doesn’t reflect what is more popular culture today.

The problem right now is that we have a cultural elite that just want to try to take so much of the cake and are doing it just because the people that do the real culture are kept out of the systems by making them hard to reach.

Editor’s Note: Peter Åstedt has been working in the music industry for over 35 years. He has started record labels, distribution systems, and publishing companies. Peter also runs several major showcase festivals and is an advisor for INES and co-founder of MusicHelp/Discover Sensation. He has worked with the Top Ten most streamed songs and had music on both the Olympics and Super Bowl. Peter has currently taken up the seat of Station Manager of Cashbox Radio, working with MD, PD and station owner, Sandy Graham. In 2021, he worked as the European Consultant for Heal the Earth – An Earth Day Celebration. His latest venture is a new Showcase Festival in Sweden, Future Echoes which is about to launch the newest edition in Canada in 2024, Future Echoes Toronto. Peter is a Managing Partner and Editor of the legendary Record World International and also sits on the Board of Directors for the Canadian-based charity, The Drive Foundation.