NEWS: Arts Council Announces 2015-18 Funding. Jazz Services Axed

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.

Categories: miscellaneous

17 replies »

  1. Re: Peter's comment on not daring to criticise ACE, this from John Tusa, former head of Barbican who should know a thing or two about that: “All too often arts organisations, especially small ones, fear resisting or challenging proposals that literally come from another intellectual universe. The real lesson from Whitehall is that bureaucrats and policy makers only respect those who resist and fight back. It is the law of the jungle – the weak and frightened are pursued and mauled; the strong are respected and accommodated. Commanding your language is a key element in striking this defiant posture. Defiance is far more than defensiveness; defiance indicates a belief in success.”

  2. Hear hear Peter Slavid! I couldn't have put it better myself. It's a wonderful opportunity to create a streamlined, better structured, transparent organisation in which more funding could be directed directly to musicians and promoters.

  3. Perhaps I'm missing something here.
    Are you saying that there's a chance to appeal once a restructure of Jazz Services has taken place?
    Because if there isn't then this cut in funding can only be a bad thing for touring jazz musicians.
    As I understand it the money has been reallocated to a handful of specific venues/organisations that are predominantly London based.
    I can't see any sense in it.
    And why in the world would Gilles Peterson need 89 grand??
    We're essentially talking about lending a little hand to grass roots jazz – the guys and gals that are prepared to up sticks, leave their families and drive thousands of miles around the UK and beyond because they believe in the music and want to be there for the fans of the music.
    The situation is so tight out there that just one or two thousand pounds can be the difference between a tour going ahead or being cancelled.
    Without an organisation to allocate funding to the wider jazz community I just don't think we can survive.
    If it's gone for the next three years then there will be untold damage to jazz venues all over the country.
    Many are already on the brink of closure and if they don't have the opportunity to put on bigger, touring acts there's a good chance that they'll either fold or stick with cheaper local acts (no disrespect to those musicians) which would, in turn, lead to less attendance.
    You could easily be right and a more streamlined organisation could well be the answer but if we lose touring support for the next three years it's not going to be good for anybody.
    I say it's time to fight for our livelihoods.
    If we let this go with a shrug of the shoulders then what's next?
    Or maybe this is just the usual “wailing and gnashing of teeth”…

  4. Peter is right. The organisation is responsible for its own demise. We need a new organisation that delivers the money where it is needed. Of the £288,000 given to Jazz Services this year only £60,000 went on touring. Why? Surely we can do better than this. Let's get a new organisation together and really support musicians.

  5. An excellent email from Peter for which many thanks. To add to it and to put Jazz Services in context it is always useful for people to look at the work Jazz Services has undertaken by visiting the last Annual Report – a labour intensive exercise and two more are on the way http://www.jazzservices.org.uk/index.php/jazz-services-resources-reports/item/773
    Jazz Services has done a sterling job and will continue to operate in an effective, helpful and efficient manner and will no doubt has Peter has suggested examine its remit. Jazz Services was asked to help the National Youth Jazz Orchestra back in 2009. The advice and bridge-building that Jazz Services offered was a huge factor in NYJO understanding the problems they faced and what needed to be done, and then putting together an action plan for reform which has manifestly worked. This is a huge credit to JSL and NYJO – and actually to the Arts Council as well, which produced the original diagnosis on NYJO and advised NYJO to take advice from JSL.
    Jazz Services has also actively lobbied on behalf of jazz in the UK and the latest document in response to the Culture Media and Sport select Committee on Arts Council funding is published at:
    The report is well worth reading as it demonstrates the effectiveness of Jazz Services operations in touring and promoter support.
    However what concerns me is the overall lack of funding for jazz in the UK. Jazz is one of the least expensive serious art forms to produce, and one where relatively small amounts of subsidy can have an enormous effect on the viability of tours and concerts. Jazz musicians are rarely well-paid, but they love their art and take any opportunity they can to perform it, however poor the remuneration. Jazz promoters are usually enthusiasts for the music, and organise events for that reason rather than to make profits. Unlike theatre or opera, the infrastructure requirements for a performance are basic and inexpensive, and hence easy to arrange in a wide variety of locations throughout the UK. Jazz is an art form which is both easy and cost-effective to support in many parts of the country which other more expensive art forms cannot reach.

    To take the above in context with the bigger picture let’s look at the recent funding round. English National Opera received a cut of £5 million from £17 million to £12 million. However it would appear from an article in the Guardian on the 2nd July 2014 (ENO forced to tighten its reins while 58 groups lose all funding from Arts Council) that the funding of English National Opera (ENO) was a done deal as ENO was given an inducement of £7.6 million to “help in the transition of its business plan”. Did the Arts Council of England offer this kind of help to the organisations who lost their funding?

    Even with a cut in ENO funding opera funding increased from £50.5 million in 2012/13 to £59.2 million in 2015/16. Jazz increased its overall funding from £1.25 million in 2012/13 to £1.67 million in 2015/16 but Jazz Services was cut which means the real increase was an exercise in robbing Peter to pay Pauline. Classical music funding was reduced from £18.9 million in 2012/13 to £16.9 million in 2015/16. The audience for opera is 1.67 million attenders, for classical music 3.29 million attenders and for jazz 2.67 million attenders. Further details are to be found on my blog http://www.complaintsinwonderland.co.uk

    Chris Hodgkins

  6. Great news that Cafe Oto is getting some funding. I recently wrote a blog asking what should/could jazz be in 2014 and quoted the journalist Phil Johnson who felt Oto was a good model for other venues, building audiences through club and artist-run nights.

    I sometimes feel (rightly or wrongly) the term 'jazz' prevents bands reaching the widest audience they can. I saw the Loop Collective at the monthly Jazz in the Round on Monday (at the Cockpit) and felt gutted there that, to be blunt, there weren't more young people there because there was some incredible, risky music being made.

    My feeling is that until the media starts to get behind what can be unique and ground-breaking artists the Arts Council are never going to fund it in the way they should (I mean these amounts we're talking about are pathetic in terms of how far they have to stretch – although as pointed out above, still really count).

    When have you seen Django Bates on Later with Jools (or did I miss that?) or Shabaka Hutchings on the cover of The Observer magazine. How often does any radio station play tracks by Kit Downes? Let's hope blogs like London Jazz News and internet radio and TV take over really soon.

    It's not about sniping at other organisations – Gilles Peterson runs a label with a team and along with their artists they do an important job of connecting to new audiences. The funding cut to Jazz Services may be a curve ball but it's also a wake up call. Jazz in the UK isn't doomed as a result of it but let's heat it up – musicians: ensure your music is relevant, that's what Herbie Hancock, Miles Davis and Bessie Smith did. Venues: find ways of enticing all the 'curious ears' in your area to try out new stuff out and let's get mainstream media involved. That's all easier said than done, and maybe I am living in cloud cuckoo land, but I think something positive could come from this.

  7. Re Nigel Price's comment “As I understand it the money has been reallocated to a handful of specific venues/organisations that are predominantly London based.”

    In what way are Jazz North, the Manchester Jazz Festival, Performances Birmingham, East Midlands Jazz, and Sound UK in Bristol, London based?

    Some of the other funded causes are doubtless London based while providing support for jazz around the country. Is there any funded cause that only supports jazz in London?

  8. Debra– 'jazz' isn't pop music anymore, it never will be. Some music is going to resonate with the popular audience, teenagers, and some isn't. Worrying about cutting edge improvisation not being on Jools is futile. Musicians and venues in jazz are coming up with ways across the UK to engage audiences, and they are building slowly, but it's never going to be X factor. And we all know their music is cutting edge so that is not the question. The Arts Council doesn't have the right in their remit to deny funding to this kind of music because the mainstream media isn't involved. On the contrary their remit is to ensure that specialist, new and cutting edge music (and art) is in fact supported, regardless, to enrich the overall cultural land artistic andscape in the UK.

    As for Giles Peterson, I would be interested to know why the Arts Council thought to take away over 300K from a vital grass roots organisation like Jazz Services and give 90,000 to Brownswood Records, an independent for-profit record label that seems to be doing just fine as it is?. The rich get richer? Are musicians from all over the UK to get in touch with Brownswood now for touring? I read from a few voices that even though money for jazz has been taken from Jazz Services it has been given back to companies like Brownswood, so it's still money back into 'jazz'. This is not a good replacement and is not money back into jazz, this is money into a record label. Is there anywhere online we can learn the reasoning for 90K being allotted to Giles' label? Surely it's public money so we should be able to read what they are going to do with these funds for the next three years, that will benefit the UK arts world, rather than just giving a record label a big wad of cash because their DJ is famous and doing a great job as is? I'm with Nigel, why does his label need this money?

  9. Thomas Poole wrote:  I read with a kind of resigned despair news about latest arts council jazz funding. Depressing news about the financing of jazz is not hard to find. However the news that Gilles Peterson (that vaguest of musical entity’s) has been given money is really quite something. One of Peterson’s current record label signings is “soil and pimp sessions” a “ Japanese punk jazz” band.. Deliberately misleading categorizations of jazz in order to make it more marketable is as old as the hills. However it is no less distasteful and dishonest now than it ever was. This is all very well in a commercial setting where you do what you have to do to sell. But when the arts council steps in to financially support these activities it really is a particularly sad day. Still Mr Peterson will be able to add to his ever expanding record collection

  10. Here here to Nigel Price… or is it hear hear? Musicians speak!

    You can't axe an organization's life blood completely and then expect it to reshape itself. The Arts Council must surely be quite capable of guiding an organization into reshaping itself if that is what it wants of them. No, it's been axed.

    In the meantime what happens to the touring fund, small promoters fund, website and the other invaluable services run by Jazz Services? Is any other organization on the above Arts Council list impartial or interested enough to adminstrate any of that?

    And by the way why do we not have a National Jazz centre in this country, whatever happened to that one?

  11. Hi there, Anonymous.
    I was referring to the “first time” funded organisations.
    ie, the reallocation of ACE funds.
    Jazz Refreshed, Brownswood and Cafe Oto.
    All of which are in…..London.
    If there's a good argument for funnelling ACE money into individual organisations rather than trying to help all jazz musicians then I'm all ears.

  12. For me, Jazz Services has provided much more than simply the touring scheme, hugely valuable though that has been. It has also provided an important national voice for jazz, through Jazz UK, through the parliamentary jazz awards, through its directory of musicians, through its lobbying campaigns, website and much more. It has kept an eye on the future through its support of jazz awards for music services/music hubs that actively promote the genre amongst children and young people. It provides an important link from the regions to the national scene, particularly for those regions which do not have their own local jazz development agencies. Most crucially, it supports the grassroots, the small-scale promoters and the up-and-coming musicians, as opposed to the huge international acts that grab the headlines, but do not really grow a jazz ecology. The risk is that with no national organisation in place, this ecology will be weakened further at a time when funding is already getting tighter for many promoters.

    As a promoter, it is unclear as to who we will now be able to turn to for advice and assistance if Jazz Services now disappears. I think it's the wrong decision by ACE. It fails also to take into account that if Jazz Services now goes, who will assist the small promoters, the up and coming musicians and the grassroots communities? Or, for that matter, the regions? There is still a need for a national unifying organisation supporting the jazz grassroots. Some regions will now have no jazz support at all.

    Contrary to some of the more negative comments, I have always been surprised how much Jazz Services has done with a very small core staff, a succession of funding cuts and an increased requirement to jump through more and more funding hoops. Of course, the organisation is not perfect and there is always a need to refresh and revitalise. JS was obviously not helped by a bad couple of years in terms of its governance choices. Yet, despite this, it remains a hugely valued focus for the national jazz community, and has often surprised – in a good way – with its campaigns and initiatives. Again, despite criticisms from some quarters including Arts Council, Jazz UK magazine remains a hugely valued resource amongst our audiences, and helps inform them of new bands on the scene. Many of the older generations still prefer the paper medium to that online; many will miss out.

    For me, the most telling indicator that ACE has got this one wrong is the amount of support that is out there for JS amongst the jazz musicians themselves. For all their merits, jazz players are hardly renowned for their enthusiastic and active support for arts administrators or development agencies. Yet, for Jazz Services, there seems to be a huge amount of support from one of the key communities they are there to serve. This suggests they have been getting a lot more right than this decision would seem to give credit for.

    Reconsider this one, please, Arts Council.

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