Editor-at-Large Peter Bacon reports on the demise of JazzUK.
The organisation which for 34 years acted as a promotional, grant-giving and information hub for jazz in the UK has finally had to throw in the towel.
A press release just issued by JazzUK chair, Dominic McGonigal, details the history of the organisation which was known for most of its life as Jazz Services and as such became an Arts Council of England National Portfolio Organisation in 2004, and – not mentioned in the release – had that status withdrawn in 2014, following which it was run by Heulwen Philips, who sadly passed away earlier this year (tribute)
The release reads:
“JazzUK, formerly Jazz Services was, for 34 years, the voice of advocacy for Jazz in the UK. As an Arts Council of England National Portfolio Organisation, the charity targeted grant funding for touring, promoters and recording schemes since 2004 creating over 5,000 gigs, providing employment for over 15,000 musicians, and generating five times more money in revenue than grants it awarded.
“In a sector with many diverse and disparate organisations and individuals, Jazz Services was the only entity to provide authoritative comment based on objective analysis. A major Jazz Services campaign focused on issues such as the disproportionately low amount of arts funding Jazz receives when compared to other art forms – in 2018/19 opera will receive £57 million, classical music £19 million but jazz will get just £1.6 million despite the fact almost twice as many people attend- jazz concerts as classical concerts or opera.
“‘…it is unlikely Jazz would receive the level of Arts Council funding it currently does were it not for the advocacy and work of Jazz Services,’ said Lord Colwyn, Co-chair of APPJAG (All Party Parliamentary Jazz Appreciation Group).
“Following the retirement of its long-serving Director, Chris Hodgkins, Jazz Services re-branded as JazzUK. Despite substantially diminished funds, JazzUK initiated the hugely successful #4Jazz festival in Coventry, substantially funded by corporate sponsorship matching Arts Council funding.
“Identifying the opportunity for more touring and international connections, JazzUK created a consortium of jazz musicians, promoters and agents, together with music industry bodies such as BASCA, PRS for Music and Musicians Union to promote British jazz at JazzAhead in Bremen, the foremost international forum for jazz, an unrivalled opportunity for the UK jazz scene to embrace International opportunities.”
The press release continues:
“’Trustees are immensely proud of what Jazz Services, and latterly of what JazzUK has achieved, having excelled on every financial and artistic metric. However, securing funding that supports on-going operational costs for industry-wide activities that, for example, pay for salaries of suitably qualified and experienced people, has become increasingly difficult. The cost of securing grants is now so high that Trustees of the charity were concerned whether ‘chasing grants’ was an appropriate use of charitable funds’, said Chair Dominic McGonigal.
“Central to its work was the provision of information online. The Jazz Services website was a unique and comprehensive resource covering everything from gig listings to advice for venues and promoters helping to increase jazz audiences.Its Online Music Business Resource helped musicians manage their careers with information and advice on finance, law, marketing, digital marketing, copyright tour organisation, and included information on visas, work permits, tax and advice on all the challenges that musicians face.
“’In a sense, our job has been done. As the jazz infrastructure has developed and the next generation of jazz musicians is coming through, it’s time now to ‘pass the baton on’. The JazzUK trustees are pleased to announce that the JazzUK reserves and assets, including the Online Music Business Resource, will be passed to MusicTank, a not-for-profit music industry information hub set up by the University of Westminster,’ said Chairman Dominic McGonigal. ‘We believe that with the resources available to MusicTank, a greater number of musicians, more educators and more promotors and venues will be able to benefit from JazzUK resources.’
“Jonathan Robinson, programme Director, MusicTank said: ‘Having worked with Jazz Services to further raise the genre’s profile in public sector broadcasting, we are not only well aware of the issues affecting the genre, but also conscious of the great progress made by JazzUK and its forerunner, Jazz Services. We are therefore delighted to be entrusted with JazzUK’s legacy, which aligns well with MusicTank’s overarching ethos of sharing information and know-how as openly as possible. Watch this space.'”
The space to watch is MusicTank