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Thursday, 17 July 2014

Open letter from Jazz Services...


17 July 2014

Dear Musician, Promoter, Jazz Lover,

Thank you for your support for Jazz Services and our role in the future development of jazz.

Already, 4,000 people have signed a petition set up independently by vocalist Emily Saunders following the decision by the Arts Council not to fund Jazz Services. Most have added comments, speaking eloquently about the impact on the jazz scene. Pianist Kit Downes spoke for many on LondonJazzNews when he blogged:

“What’s happened now leaves the musicians with less power to do it themselves – something which is integral to both the history and survival of the music. To those that say it is wrong to rely so heavily on one organisation for this kind of help, I would say it is because they are the only ones that offer it.”  [LINK]

Whilst we are hugely supportive of the other jazz organisations the Arts Council has funded in the NPO round and no doubt this will produce some excellent work in some regions, this does leave huge gaps in the jazz scene.

For example, audiences in Cornwall will become isolated from the national jazz scene from April 2015. Several promoters in the National Rural Touring Forum have told us they will stop promoting jazz next year and mid-sized venues have said they will no longer have jazz in their programming.

Furthermore, for many musicians Jazz Services has been instrumental in helping them establish a successful career and that artist development will not be available to the next generation of musicians.

Without Jazz Services, the opportunity for national touring for the grass roots jazz musician has now been removed. As a result, the promoters networks built up over many years are threatened and audiences in many parts of the country will lose their regular live jazz.

We understand the reasons for the Arts Council’s decision. We accept that there were governance issues in Jazz Services at the time of the bid and that we did not demonstrate effective partnership working.

However, since our bid application, Jazz Services has changed significantly.

We now have solid governance, as confirmed by the Charity Commission. We have a new Chair, a new Vice Chair, new Trustees, new Patrons and a united Board.

Some NPO organisations included Jazz Services in their bid and will rely on us to deliver their programme. Following the news of the bid decision, other organisations have come forward in support of Jazz Services and are keen to work in partnership with us.

Already we have addressed underlying financing issues by increasing our advertising revenue and attracting new funds from charitable trusts.

Most importantly at this crossroads for the organisation, we wanted to hear from musicians and audiences. We held an Open Meeting, the objective being to listen and draw feedback from musicians, promoters and audience.  It was constructive and hugely helpful in planning our future. In addition, we launched a survey and we have actively solicited comments and discussion on social media.

This dialogue is key to our future and I would encourage you to take part in the ongoing debate.

The petition is at:

https://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/arts-council-england-in-the-light-of-the-cessation-of-npo-support-for-jazz-services-we-request-arts-council-england-enable-adequate-funding-for-jazz-services-to-continue-their-invaluable-work-for-uk-jazz

The survey is at:

http://www.jazzservices.org.uk/index.php/the-future-of-jazz-services-web-survey

There are opportunities to post comments on the petition site and there is a Twitter conversation where supporters are putting their hands up #4JazzFuture.

I look forward to hearing from you so that we can make a fresh approach to the Arts Council.

Kind regards,


Dominic McGonigal
Chair,
Jazz Services


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