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Festivals & events post-COVID

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At Jazz Connector on 30th July 2020, members of Ireland’s jazz and improvised music scene gathered to discuss Navigating the new reality: Changing festivals and events in the post-COVID19 landscape.

The conversation followed on from Jazz Connector meetings on the 2nd of Julyand 16th July.

Our Guest Speaker was John Daly of Limerick Jazz Festival, which is going ahead with a mixed programme of live and online events in 2020.

Guest Speakers were expressing their own personal opinions, and not speaking on behalf of their organisations or employers.

Below is an summary of some of the points which emerged over the course of this Jazz Connector discussion.

Limerick Jazz Festival 2020

  • It was important to Limerick Jazz to try and continue especially in light of key regional festivals such as Bray and Galway not taking place in 2020, even before COVID. The cancellation of the Cork Festival was also a big blow to the community. Sligo Jazz had created a compelling online format.
  • Crucially, they have the support of their main venue, Dolans.
  • The programme will include a mix of online and some live events.
  • Musicians from cancelled festival areas (i.e. Galway, Cork, Dublin) will be asked to record a concert to livestream.
  • They are also reaching out to Irish jazz musicians abroad - David O’Rourke NYC and John Donegan in London are both streaming.
  • The live programme will include 4 bands in 1 day on the Sunday, finishing Sunday 6pm.
  • A maximum of 90 persons will be allowed to attend.
  • Dolan’s have experience in streaming concerts to the pub while patrons are eating/drinking.

Inaugural Young Irish Jazz Musician of the Year Award.

  • Debut at the Limerick Jazz Festival 2020
  • A new initiative in association with Improvised Music Company, based on BBC Young Musician.
  • Focusing with nurturing youth and discovering raw talent.
  • YIJM will pick out musicians in the 13-18 age range, prior to college age.
  • The competition will be held in University Concert Hall
  • 5 finalists will perform a 15 minute set as part of the festival accompanied by a live “Limerick Jazz” trio.
  • It is hoped that the competition will continue every 2 years.
  • Musicians and panel will all be paid, creating work for Irish musicians.
  • They acknowledged that box office revenue will take a significant hit - online gigs will be by donation, live gigs in Dolan’s ticketed, while the Young Irish jazz Musician will be free for audiences to attend.
  • Reliant on the support of Arts Council, Limerick City/County Council and peer organisations such as IMC.
  • It was noted that this festival model is not sustainable beyond 2020.

A Discussion about online gigs & alternative monetization

  • Free online streams could be damaging the true value of creative work - it is presented free to the public in most cases.
  • It’s natural that artists want to perform - but this leads to a saturation of free performances.
  • New models are needed for investment in artists, supporting them in different ways.
  • Could audience pay to support the artist, and then receive content like concert tickets for free
    • for artists, this would mean they could plan their year in advance and present their creative process, goals, events as one longer output.

- It was acknowledged that we use subscription models for so many things now, how could this be adapted to the creative sector and Irish musicians?

  • In France, government supports established jazz musicians, similar to Aosdána in Ireland
    • If you work a certain number of weeks per year, they support you for the rest.
    • Different models in Finland/Norway.

Representing the Jazz Sector

  • It was acknowledged that the jazz sector needs a unified voice
  • Collectively, we should be representing to government on issues like this, however the community is still quite disparate
  • IMC outlined plans to help facilitate a National Jazz Forum over the next 5 years.
    • Currently working with organisations in the newly formed Irish Music Alliance, looking for a space for creative music in Dublin, in consultation with Dublin City Council.
    • Arts Council are currently working on a National Music Policy. Jazz needs to be adequately represented in this.
    • A National Jazz Forum with a unified message about the level of investment and infrastructure needed to make this music sustainable into the future could more effectively lobby in these situations.

There was an important discussion about Process

  • Process is a unifying factor for musicians. Regardless of stylistic differences.
    • Practice, researching, bringing life experiences to art.
    • Could the process be made more explicit to the audience, documentaries on Irish jazz musicians etc.?
    • This could highlight to the audiences the value of what they are supporting, rather than a potentially ‘mysterious’ end-product of a concert

New Thinking Needed for New Times Ahead

  • IMC are currently investigating different models. With a working title of ‘Creator Investment Initiative
    • This would include content for audiences on the process - highlighting to audiences the amount of work, skill and practice that goes into the end product.

A discussion about broadcast and representation on the airwaves

  • It was noted that RTE, as our national broadcaster, should be highlighting Irish jazz musicians like this
    • They have less interest in jazz now than before
      • Jazz was routinely broadcast on television in 80’s and 90’s.
        • e.g. Louis Stewart Trio used to play between programmes on RTE
        • Cork Jazz Festival used to be filmed. These films should be in RTE archives.
        • For the first Dublin Jazz festival, Stan Tracey & Quartet played on Late Late Show.

There followed a discussion about Irish language shows and a perceived openness for edgier, more contemporaneous programming

  • IMC approaches most radio shows every year for Int’l Jazz Day to highlight Irish jazz.
  • Generally more openness from Irish-language shows
    • This could be a good beginning possibility, highlighting that there are Irish jazz musicians who are Gaelgóirí - Irish-speakers don’t only play traditional music. Could this be a pitch to these shows/stations?

Find the minutes of other Jazz Connector meetings HERE.

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