Thinking With Jazz II symposium, Lancaster Jazz Festival, 20 September 2013

Aug 19 2013 Published by under Events

Screen shot 2013-08-19 at 11.13.49Thinking With Jazz is a day-long symposium that takes place during the 2013 Lancaster Jazz Festival. This year, our panelists and keynote speakers include John Cumming (London Jazz Festival), Fiona Talkington (BBC Radio 3), Gerry Godley (Twelve Points Festival, Dublin), George McKay (University of Salford), Tim Wall (Birmingham City University), Kristin McGee (University of Groningen), Matt Robinson (Lancaster Jazz Festival), Pete Moser (More Music) and Tony Whyton (University of Salford).

Join them to discuss a range of topics including festivals and social media, spaces and places, funding and programming, and artistic dreams and realities.

In the afternoon there will be an open workshop in which symposium participants collaborate on a Grow Your Own Festival resource. Our aim is to provide festival promoters and arts organisations with ideas and practical tools to design festivals which engage local communities in creative and meaningful ways.

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This event is supported by the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences Enterprise Centre and the Lancaster Institute for Contemporary Arts, Lancaster University.

For further information, please contact leo@lancasterjazz.com or n.gebhardt@lancaster.ac.uk

The symposium is free to attend, but early registration is necessary, as lunch will be provided. Go to the website here for further information and registration.

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Jazz in the New Europe/London Jazz Festival

Oct 27 2012 Published by under Events

There is a strong European theme at the London Jazz Festival this year. The Festival has been awarded a grant from the EU Culture Fund to expand its commitment to European programming. The Festival will feature several leading European artists and collaborations including a commission for Henri Texier to create new music for a transnational, mixed generational octet. John Cumming, Director of Serious and the London Jazz Festival (and Rhythm Changes project partner), comments on the importance of this initiative:

“Thanks to support from the Culture Programme of the European Union, this year’s London Jazz Festival presents an exciting programme of international collaboration, featuring the jazz giants and rising stars of the European jazz scene. The Festival will see musicians from across the continent working together to develop new music that breaks through frontiers whilst retaining the individual creativity of each participant. This spirit of exchange and collaboration is at the heart of the Jazz in the New Europe.”

The London Jazz Festival initiative builds on the work carried out by Serious over recent years, including the development of Take Five Europe and and numerous collaborations with European partners, including work with the Rhythm Changes team.

Questions which are central to the Rhythm Changes project are also embedded within the festival programme. Project Leader Tony Whyton will be chairing the first of two public debates at the Royal Festival Hall on Tuesday 13 November on the theme of ‘Jazz in the New Europe’ which will include contributions from leading European musicians and journalists. Jonathan Scheele, Head of the European Commission Representation in the UK states:

“It is terrific that the Culture Programme of the European Union is supporting the London Jazz Festival, enabling this internationally renowned celebration of jazz to welcome even more European talent and to showcase exciting collaborations between European artists.”

Rhythm Changes commissioned photographer, Paul Floyd Blake, will also be capturing events at the Festival this year, the results of which will be included in the Rhythm Changes exhibition in 2013.

To find out more about the EU Culture Fund and the London Jazz Festival initiative click here

For details of the ‘Jazz in the New Europe’ panel click here

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Rhythm Changes at the London Jazz Festival

Nov 24 2010 Published by under Events, News

Rhythm Changes hosted its first UK public event on Sunday 21 November as part of the London Jazz Festival.  The event, a panel discussion entitled ‘Another Place?  Why Jazz Festivals Matter’, included contributions from John Cumming (Serious/London Jazz Festival), Tony Dudley-Evans (Birmingham Jazz/Cheltenham Jazz Festival) and Hannibal Saad (Jazz Lives in Syria) alongside Anne Dvinge and Tony Whyton from the Rhythm Changes team.

Taking place at the Barbican Centre in London, the panel attracted an engaged and knowledgeable audience ranging from international festival directors to jazz journalists, writers and jazz advocates to enthusiasts, and the discussion focused on the contribution that festivals make to the creative economy in Europe and beyond.

The panel discussed how festivals can provide a celebration of place and encourage innovative programming and also gave examples of jazz as a catalyst for social change.  John Cumming, for example, discussed the way in which the London Jazz Festival had expanded its reach in recent years to encourage new communities to participate in festival events and also described the scene in Istanbul, where a jazz festival and venue had transformed part of the city through creative programming.

The panel addressed the relationship between year round programming and festivals programming, and also talked about the way in which festivals relate to a sense of cultural memory (for example through using established venues and tapping into the legacy of previous events) at the same time as offering musicians and audiences visions of the future.  The audience responded enthusiastically to the notion that jazz offered a model for celebrating diversity and cultural hybridity, and the panel concluded with a lively question and answer session where the audience exchanged ideas and experiences.

As Rhythm Changes first Knowledge Transfer forum, Another Place? Why Jazz Festivals Matter demonstrated the relevance of the project’s research questions which explore the changing Europe and the value of jazz as a transformative force.  As Anne Dvinge stated, jazz is a conversational medium that, in certain contexts, has the ability to offer alternative notions of place and identity.  Anne described the way in which jazz festivals offer audiences a means of encountering things that are outside their everyday experience and also argued that the view of jazz as ‘high brow’ (or difficult) did not play out in reality once audiences engage with the music first hand.  Festivals in particular can encourage people to take risks or to sample things that are unfamiliar; in this respect, jazz festivals really do offer access to another place where people can feel differently about both the music and their environment.

Click below to hear an audio recording of the event:
Another Place? Why Jazz Festivals Matter by Tony Whyton

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Another Place? Why Jazz Festivals Matter

Sep 26 2010 Published by under Events

Join us for ‘Another Place? Why Jazz Festivals Matter’ at the London Jazz Festival 2010.  The public event, held at the Barbican Centre in London on 21 November, will be the first of five Rhythm Changes panels designed to explore key research questions with industry professionals. The event listing can be found at:
http://www.londonjazzfestival.org.uk/events/2010-11-21/another-place-why-jazz-festivals-matter
More details to follow once the panel line up has been confirmed…

 

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Festivals and the dynamics of culture

Jun 29 2010 Published by under Events

During the Live! Singapore event in June, I participated in some interesting panels with international festival organisers and arts professionals on the state of jazz.  During the event, it became clear to me how timely the Rhythm Changes project is and how the project research questions tie into so many issues that are of direct relevance to jazz programmers today.  For example, how jazz festivals and venues feed into the transformation of scenes and societies, how they can reinforce a sense of civic pride, how jazz events can act as a catalyst for social change etc., are key questions not only for the Rhythm Changes team when examining the dynamics of culture but also for festivals and venues, especially at a time when the value and contribution of jazz to society is often downplayed or misunderstood.

As part of my presentation on programming, I argued that the magical and essential thing about any successful festival or venue is the relationship of music to place.  What makes a festival unique are its surroundings, circumstances and the way in which its programming works within these settings.  At their best, festivals can act as catalysts for change, transforming everyday spaces into magical worlds or encouraging people to see their environment in a new way or, indeed, they can make us think about the new possibilities our everyday surroundings can open up. 

Jazz programming can serve to galvanise communities and feed into a sense of civic pride.  It can also help us to experience things that wouldn’t normally occur on our doorstep.  Indeed, programmers offer audiences positive experiences of diverse cultures and demonstrate firsthand the benefits of cultural collaboration and exchange.  In this respect, international jazz programmes have the potential to go beyond the performance to provide audiences with a new and inspiring cultural experience.  Successful programmers tend to capitalise on this, encouraging the reception of jazz as a lifestyle choice.

One of the critical tensions at play within the increasing internationalisation of music programming and the growth and domination of artist agencies and touring schemes, is the question of how programmers differentiate themselves in a market where the same international acts tend to prevail, and touring schedules of musicians with fixed offers tend to overwhelm programming models.  The ‘one shoe fits all approach’ might have some benefits to local jazz scenes, giving people in remote parts of the world a rare international experience (believing we are hearing the same things as people in New York for example), but the homogenisation of programming should be treated with caution and misses the opportunity to create special and innovative events and unique festival experiences that celebrate place and the unique characteristics of scenes.  Arguably, a festival that just accepts artists who are performing the same repertoire in a number of different locations is not a festival but a promoter or booking agent who facilitates touring and groups a series of unrelated events together under the brand of a festival.  The critical tension between the global, the local and the politics of place is of central importance to Rhythm Changes.

Within the Rhythm Changes project, we are also interested in how cultural policy and state subsidy informs the development of jazz scenes and will be using our project to demonstrate why jazz works in certain settings and not in others, highlighting the integral link between art, politics and the dynamics of culture.  In my recent visit to Maijazz Festival in Norway, for example, I was interested to observe how the programming for the event said as much about jazz as it did about the city’s desire to showcase its own talents and civic aspirations – to show off the Stavanger region and to demonstrate that it was an international player capable of welcoming acts from around the world to participate in the event.  This experience showed that programming is as important to politicians as it is to arts professionals and audiences, and that successful programmers are becoming increasingly aware of the far-reaching implications of their events.

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