Jazz Promotion Network Conference: ‘Stand Out’ (Glasgow, 20-21 June 2019)

The Jazz Promotion network exists in order to “advance and support professional development, information exchange and partnership opportunities for the UK & Irish jazz industry, artists and audiences”. The network has just held its 2019 conference in Glasgow, with 130 delegates attending the event at City Halls during the Glasgow Jazz Festival. At the conference a new JPN board was appointed: Kim Macari (Chair), Barney Stevenson, Harkirit Boparai, Ros Rigby, Emily Jones, Kenneth Killeen, Claire Furlong, John Blandford and Steve Mead. We asked five people who attended the conference (which was produced by Kim Macari and Amy Pearce) to give us their impressions:

Julia Payne leading a session at the JPN Conference, ‘Stand Out’, in Glasgow (Photo: JPN)

Ros Rigby, JPN Board member: A key element of this year’s conference was testing out plans the JPN Board have been working on to provide our members and the jazz sector across the UK and Ireland with opportunities to learn both from specialists in various fields and from each other. Our partners Gideon Feldman, from the disability-led charity ‘Attitude is Everything’, and Julia Payne, from the development organisation ‘The Hub’, ran sessions exploring which topics and approaches people would find most useful in sessions/training days we plan over the coming 18 months. It was gratifying to see how engaged people were in these discussions and valuable to have practical feedback. We also welcomed speakers from across Europe and from the US – leaders on work on gender in jazz, work in the community, developing new festivals – as well as a session discussing lessons learnt from the very successful ‘Going Dutch’ collaboration between JPN and Dutch Performing Arts. In uncertain times regarding our position in Europe, it was great to see how people take for granted that we work together with our friends from other countries – and will continue to do so, whatever political changes take place. Finally, this was our first conference outside England, and Glasgow was an ideal setting, particularly as delegates also got a chance to enjoy some of the great range of artists appearing at the 2019 Glasgow International Jazz Festival; we were very grateful to the Festival’s indefatigable Director, Jill Rodger, for enabling this to happen.

Dee Byrne at the JPN Conference (Photo: JPN)

Dee Byrne, Musician: As a musician, bandleader and person who has been known to put on gigs, I have always had an interest in connecting with people involved in all aspects of the industry. In our hyper digitalised world, talking face to face with a person is actually a pretty refreshing experience. This year’s JPN conference, Stand Out!, was another great meeting of musicians, promoters, producers, journalists, educators, funders… and more, from Ireland, Wales, Scotland, England and further afield. Highlights: the keynote talk by Dr Kelly Snook – a fascinating peek into the future of electronic music, the pitches and snapshot session where we had an opportunity to present a new project/idea to the group, and some excellent live music. But informal chats over coffee in the breaks is really what it’s all about. Also great to be in Glasgow while the jazz festival was happening, it put everything into context. I’ll be back next year! Sarah Chaplin,  JazzLondonLive: An intriguing programme of workshops, talks, meetings and live music prompted me to pay my dues and book a ticket up to Glasgow. Scottish host member Kim Macari’s charismatic presence and humour along with JPN’s current chair Emily Jones’ flair for keeping things fresh and Amy Pearce’s eye for detail made for a memorable and inspiring experience all-round. Keynote speaker Kelly Snook was a stroke of genius, conveying her love of music and space with such infectious enthusiasm; everyone left the room wanting a pair of MiMu gloves to start improvising in a whole new way. After a spot of jazz speed dating, pitching and automatic writing, the evening was spent savouring the Scottish jazz scene at the Old Fruit Market. Shame I didn’t stay all weekend! Rob Adams, freelance journalist and music critic: As a Jazz Promotion Network newbie I found the conference particularly useful for making contacts. I found myself sitting next to people I previously knew only by name or from social media and putting a face to the name seems to make communication that bit easier. It was also good to catch up with others I knew from before and to find out what they were doing, how they were going about it and discovering that most of us have the same concerns about getting the word out about what we do and developing audiences. The discussion, led by Harkirit Boparai, about succession planning and the term volunteer promoters (I’m involved in four regular nights voluntarily) was very interesting. Mark Kass, London East Jazz Network: Attending the Jazz Promotion Network’s ‘Stand Out’ Conference proved a valuable investment. And great to hear the Board’s commitment to improving the personal professional development of the industry. All too often one goes to a conference and leaves suffering from death-by-PowerPoint, but this year’s no-frills conference actively encouraged and facilitated real-time collaboration through speed networking, service design workshops, consults with Arts Council & Creative Scotland experts, a whisky-imbibed Networking Walk (obvs!) and an early morning “Jazz Run” (don’t be silly). The Festival programme, in some of Glasgow’s iconic venues included fellow East Londoner Bill Laurance at St Luke’s in the East End of Glasgow (a real highlight) alongside the literally breath-taking honks of tuba-Meister Theon Cross and Chelsea Carmichael’s sax at the Blue Arrow Club. JPN’s 2020 conference will take place in Belfast on 25-26 June 2020. It will be hosted by Moving on Music in partnership with the Improvised Music Company and the mac. LINK: Jazz Promotion Network

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