Dominic McGonical, Chair of Jazz Services, has written an open letter to Alan Davey, Chief Executive of the Arts Council England:
I am writing concerning Jazz Services and the future development of jazz in England.
The decision by the Arts Council not to fund Jazz Services has caused widespread concern among musicians and audiences. Over 5,000 people have signed a petition set up independently by vocalist Emily Saunders. Most have added comments, speaking eloquently about the impact on the jazz scene. Pianist Kit Downes spoke for many when he blogged on LondonJazz News:
“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.”
Whilst we are hugely supportive of the other jazz organisations you have funded in your NPO round and no doubt this will produce some excellent work in some regions, it 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 such 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 your 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 Patrons, new Trustees 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.
As you know, we have already consulted the sector on the needs of musicians and audiences. We held an Open Meeting, we have launched a survey and we have actively solicited comments and discussion on social media.
This dialogue has confirmed that Jazz Services is unique. No other organisation in the sector is impartial, independent, not-for-profit and national.
This makes us uniquely positioned to maintain the infrastructure that has been built up over the years and to further develop artists and audiences for the sector.
We very much want, not only to continue our relationship with the Arts Council, but to turn it into a more productive partnership for the benefit of the sector.
We hope that you will entertain a fresh approach from us to maintain and develop:
Touring International Education Artist development Audience development
We will do this in partnership with promoters, festivals, other development agencies, public bodies and, of course, the musicians.
We look forward to hearing from you.
Dominic McGonigal Chair, Jazz Services Ltd.
This letter was first posted on the Jazz Services website HERE: