Arts Council England’s list of National Portfolio Organisations, and their funding levels for the three years 2015-18 has been announced this morning.
There is one significant change for the organization of jazz in the UK. From the end of March 2015, Jazz Services, which received £340,000 annual funding, will cease to be a National Portfolio Organization.
Organizations were asked to submit budgets leaving their grant stable in cash terms, and that is what most have ended up with:
– Jazz North enters as a new NPO with 190,000, but that represents a prolongation of its previous funding
– The Manchester Jazz Festival has its funding level at £90,500
– Jazzlines (listed as Performances Birmingham has its grant stable at £80,000
– East Midlands Jazz stable at £77,000
– National Youth Jazz Collective is stable at £124,000
– Serious stable at £453,000
– SoundUK in Bristol has a stable grant of £100,000
There are some new organizations appearing and others who have done better than standstill:
– Jazz re:freshed which promotes at the Mau Mau Bar in Notting Hill and runs a record label has received first-time funding of £95,000 per annum
– National Youth Jazz Orchestra was being funded as part of Jazz Services grant now is a prtfolio organisation in its own right with a grant of £125,000
– Oto Projects is included for the first time
– Gilles’ Peterson’s Brownswood Music receives first-time funding of £89,000 per annum
– Tomorrow’s Warriors have a 17% increase in their grant to £209,000
UPDATE: Peter Slavid writes by email:
A good or a bad day for Jazz?
As might be expected there has been the usual wailing and gnashing of teeth over the loss of funding to Jazz Services in the current round of Arts Council three year NPO awards. The internet is awash with musicians justifiably angry at what looks like very bad news.
But I think we need to look at this as the start of a new era – not the death of anything.
There are three reasons for this.
First of all I very much doubt that the good bits from Jazz Services will be allowed to die (NYJO has already been separated off and has its own grant). The touring scheme in particular – an absolute essential – could easily be applied for on an annual basis by a re-shaped Jazz Services or if not then by another organisation.
Secondly there is nevertheless an increase in the amount allocated to jazz in this round of funding. Whilst some of it simply puts previous annual grants on to an NPO basis I can’t stress how important it is to have that three year commitment. And the range and approach is really quite impressive:
First of all the Regions come out well. Jazz North for the first time and Birmingham, Manchester Jazz, Bristol and East Midlands Jazz all get roughly stable awards. J-Night in Hull gets an increase.
Then there are new or increased grants for Jazz Re-Freshed, Café Oto, Tomorrow’s Warriors and the National Youth Jazz Collective.
I think that’s quite a good and imaginative use of what is, of course, still nowhere near enough money in total.
Finally there is Jazz Services itself. Over the years I have been both a supporter and critic of Jazz Services, but honestly – would you commit three year funding to an organisation that has recently lost its chair (twice) and its Chief Executive? From other charities where I sit on the Board, I know how the Arts Council look very closely at the Governance of NPOs and the risk it can pose.
So what we need to do now is fix it.
Moaning about the arts council is NOT the answer. Politicians set the amount of money and politicians set the priorities, so if you don’t like what they do I suggest you write to your MP (good luck with that!).
Jazz Services remains funded until March 2015 so there is time to put things right.
First they need to spend the next couple of months deciding what role they want in the future. Then they need to get their house in order to fulfil the new role – with Chris Hodgkins leaving, a new structure is inevitable, and a new Chair and new Board members is probably advisable.
Once that’s in place it should be relatively easy to marshal the arguments and supporters behind an application for 2015/16 to cover the key items of the touring money and the other schemes which are so critical.
I’ve no idea what a re-shaped Jazz Services would look like – but if they want the Arts Council to take them seriously then reshaped is what they need to be and they need to decide which bits need keeping, which bits can be discarded, and what new things they need to do. (And we still need, actually we have always needed an organisation that will speak out on behalf of Jazz to the media, the politicians and the public).
This is not the end of jazz. We should concentrate on making it the start of something better.