Sunday, 27 November 2011

The Original Invitation

What are We doing about UK Jazz in 2011, and for 2012-2015?
November 2011 at Conway Hall

An invitation from Helen Mayhew, Dorian Ford, Juliet Kelly and Mike Gordon

with support from Jazz Services, and sponsored by the Musicians' Union

This event was facilitated by Jenifer Toksvig

In a climate of cuts, what are we doing to ensure the future of jazz in the UK?

Is UK jazz something to be proud of or embarrassed by?

Is jazz misunderstood? What can I do to change that?

What does the culture around jazz listening mean for musicians?

How can the future of UK jazz be shaped in a climate of cuts, and the growth of homogenizing corporate culture?

Who will shape the future of jazz in the UK?

This invitation is addressed to you if you

- think jazz is acceptably incorporated into UK musical culture

- think jazz is marginalised in UK musical culture

- are worried about reaching audiences

- don't care about who's listening and just want to play

- think the scene is cliquey

- are a student/graduate/player/promoter/fan

- think the same people get all the gigs

- think there are too many gimmicks

- think the scene is run by a very few people

Broadcaster and DJ Helen Mayhew:

‘I feel very strongly that jazz is often a forgotten or under-valued art form in the eyes of UK arts funding bodies. Although attracting similar sized audiences as classical or opera music, the subsidy it receives is disproportionately small in comparison. It is remarkable how the jazz scene manages to survive in this country despite this lack of support, with UK jazz musicians of international standing and outstanding calibre often playing gigs for a pittance in comparison with their colleagues in the classical world. Jazz club promoters often run their clubs on a shoestring as a labour of love, while classical orchestras and opera houses receive massive subsidy. I feel it is a matter of urgency that the Arts Council addresses and remedies this imbalance.’

Pianist Dorian Ford:

‘When I left Ian Carr's workshop at WAC, and went on to study at Berklee, I did so because at that time, there were no Jazz courses at UK music schools. Now there are many. Jazz is starting to become an accepted part of the 'academy'. And yet, I am not convinced about Jazz's place in UK culture. I find myself wondering what the expectations are of UK jazz graduates. I wonder about the relationship between the need for innovation and playing 'standards', and if this is connected to selling out versus integrity; whether there is a clear or vaguely perceived tribalism around this issue. I hope you'll come along and join us in finding out what we are doing about Jazz, because it is our life, and our livelihoods.’

Singer Songwriter Juliet Kelly:
‘Jazz has always been a "niche" genre but now, more than ever with massive cuts to the arts, we need to think as a community about how best we can harness available funds and create opportunities for all sections of the jazz community. I believe it's the right time for us to come together to outline the needs of the UK jazz scene and to highlight the steps that need to be taken ensure these needs are met.’

Promoter Mike Gordon:

'As promoter of Scarborough Jazz, which has been operating for twenty-seven years, and director of Scarborough Jazz Festival, I’m well aware of the threat currently posed to the future of jazz. At club level the danger is that, faced with reduced funding, promoters will resort to booking tried-and-tested, commercially safe bands and performers. Little known, younger, innovative groups are already losing their lifeblood: venues at which they can perform. Audiences will not be exposed to new genres - a vital prerequisite for the healthy development of any art form. But it's not just a matter of funding. Why do the media give jazz so little space? Why is it such a low priority in national and local authority arts policies? Why are our audiences largely from the older generation? The jazz community needs to address these questions and many others. Everyone interested in jazz has something to offer. If would be great if you could join us at this important event. With your support - and that of others you may know - this day may be the catalyst for positive perceptions and support of jazz.'

If you've got anything to say, if you don't yet know what you want to say or you just want to hear what others have to say; if you find yourself passionate about jazz or passionately moaning about jazz, if you are a jazz veteran or a jazz novice, know nothing about it but are vaguely curious, know too much about it or have questions to add to ours, please come along because this event needs you.

This event ran using Open Space technology, which gives anyone the chance to propose a starting point for discussion, then take part in one of these conversations, flit between them all,
or head to the bar (or in this instance, urn).

The event was made possible due to the support and generous sponsorship of the Musicians’ Union, which has a thriving Jazz Section. More on this event can be found at More information on the MU can be found at

This event was free to MU members and £10/£5 concessions for non MU.

Email for news about UK Jazz Open Space 2012

No comments:

Post a Comment