UNESCO International Jazz Day, 30th April 2013

International Jazz Day 2012. Photo credit: Steve Mundinger

The German office of Unesco is currently inviting submissions from organizers of jazz events to be included under the umbrella of 30 April International Jazz Day, which prompted me to find out if there is a similar initiative in the UK. There isn't.

The inaugural day last year was under the leadership of Herbie Hancock, and he gave huge energy to the whole worldwide project. He said at the time: 

"When I accepted the honour of being a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador, in July 2011, I decided to dedicate my time and energy to a culture of peace. I therefore presented a project that would share the values of jazz on a global scale. The project was adopted by UNESCO’s General Conference in November 2011 and I hope this new International Day will stimulate interest in jazz, especially among young people."

Where are things a year later, and in the UK in particular? In the worldwide list of events last year, The UK activity in 2012 was very sparse - Live Music Now's Glasgow event being the exception.

I spoke to the UK office of UNESCO to find out what's happening here. They told me they don't have any activities currently planned, citing the fact that UNESCO have had to scale back. UNESCO in the UK didn't receive any materials last year, and are not expecting any this year.

I asked how the German office manages to do something while they can't and won't: "The German commission is about 10 times our size," I was told. They also stated that "In the UK we don't focus on the International Days, there are so many of them", with the exception of "some activity around World Press Freedom Day.

For the record, the UNESCO days during the year are:

International Mother Language Day - 21 February

World Poetry Day - 21 March

World Book and Copyright Day - 23 April

International Jazz Day - 30 April

World Press Freedom Day 3rd May

World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development - 21 May

World Day for Audiovisual Heritage - 27 October.

3 comments:

  1. pretty unsatisfactory response. perhaps the misplaced perception still prevails that jazz is some sort of niche music. this despite the fact that it was the sound of the 20th century (not just the 60's)

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  2. Actually there is something happening! With Dai Pritchard and Neville Murray, I am organising 2 concerts on behalf of Soka Gakkai UK, a Buddhist Lay organisation of which Herbie and Wayne, Bennie Maupin and Buster Williams are members of the U.S branch.

    The concerts will be in Taplow on the 28th April and Brixton on the 30th and will feature some terrific UK players, many of whom are Buddhists, some not.

    We will be issuing a press release shortly and the UNESCO should have been contacted by now so I'll be chasing that up when our sterring group meets tomorrow!

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  3. Tuesday night is always so popular too :-)

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