Tuesday, 1 July 2014
Jazz North in - Jazz Services out!
The latest round of blood letting known as the Arts Council England's National Portfolio Organisations funding 2015-18 has been announced today. It makes interesting reading.
Most of the independent jazz sector (that survive on it's wits) would profess not to give a damn about the funding for the large dependent organisations (that survive on grants). But it isn't quite as simple as that. In truth all promoting organisations these days are becoming a mixed economy - with money from ticket sales being supplemented from somewhere - foundations, business, individuals, crowd funding, share issues and the like even if not from the public purse.
So who got the public money this time round? In t' North we did quite well. Jazz North deservedly got another three years of funding at the same level - it has done well in supporting musicians and it's support us in NORVOL. In Hull, J-Night got more money - Hull being UK city of culture will have helped their case possibly. Manchester Jazz Festival got three more years and The Band on the Wall in Manchester got continuation funding. Other organisations that have jazz as a part of their programme - like the National Centre for Early Music in York, South Asian Arts in Leeds and Music in the Round in Sheffield - were again successful. Elsewhere the main jazz organisations in Birmingham ("JazzLines") and the nearest type of promoter organisation to NORVOL, East Midlands Jazz, were successful. Jazz didn't seem to come out so well in the North East in terms of funding though with no obvious beneficiaries. And you only have to look at the funding for things like Opera North (now up to a £10m grant) to realise exactly where the Arts Council music priorities actually lie!
The biggest surprise was the demise of Jazz Services which represents jazz in the UK. It got nothing. The future of it's well regarded magazine, "Jazz UK", it's Parliamentary Jazz Awards, and the Touring Grant scheme for bands must now be under question, although other organisations might now take these on. Independent jazz clubs will be concerned about the fate of Jazz Promoter Awards scheme it ran with PRSF. And more than this Jazz undoubtedly needs a national voice - someone needs to be at the table making the case, otherwise the already meagre resources will get thinner still.
So what do we have overall? A continuing support for jazz which is to be welcomed. More devolution certainly. More grants for the "dependent" sector, less support for the independent sector. And a big hole at the top where the national support and advocacy should happen. So not quite a dog's breakfast, but (to mix metaphors) a bit of a curates egg... .