Jazz From Scotland: Europe Jazz Network Report 2017

In April during JazzAhead! Bremen, Jazz from Scotland was officially accepted as a member of the Europe Jazz Network and so recently, JFS Chair Kim Macari was delighted to attend their AGM and 4th Annual Europe Jazz Conference 2017.

What is EJN?

Europe Jazz Network is a non-profit organisation whose membership (currently > 120) is made up of producers, presenters and support organisations from 35 countries.

EJN exists to support the identity and diversity of jazz in Europe and broaden awareness of this vital area of music as a cultural and educational force.

EJN’s mission is to encourage, promote and support the development of the creative music sector in Europe and to create opportunities for artists, organisers and audiences from the different countries to meet and communicate.

EJN believes that creative music contributes to social and emotional growth and economic prosperity. It is an invaluable channel for the process of inter-cultural dialogue, communication and collaboration. And music is a positive force for harmony and understanding between people from the diversity of cultures inherent in the European family.

The Europe Jazz Network aims to:

  • Develop the association as an international network of producers of live music.
  • Encourage musical culture in general and jazz and improvised music in particular, and enable it to reach the widest possible public.
  • Initiate, encourage and develop international exchanges, special projects and collaborations, between producers and artists both within and outside Europe.
  • Encourage its members to programme European artistsand their work.

AGM / conference: each year an EJN member hosts this event and 2017 it was in Ljubljana, Slovenia. As well as several keynote addresses and full group panel discussions, group sessions ran concurrently which allowed members to take part in discussions tailored to specific strands of work and passion areas.

Key Findings and results:

Connecting with other national organisations: JFS is still in its infancy, so it was incredibly valuable to attend a session with the other national bodies, which allowed us to share information about our work, to find common goals and discuss collaborations. The key result of this session was the suggestion of a standardised method for national jazz organisations to share key information about their scene. This has the potential to become a vital resource for musicians working internationally (and at home) and in light of the current political climate, it felt important to do everything we can to support movement of musicians throughout EU.

Gender Balance: EJN President Ros Rigby chaired a discussion on gender balance in jazz, which will become a central focus for the network for the next few years. It was a chance to learn about successful programmes being run by members and to lay the foundations for a manifesto to be published by EJN and adhered to by the membership. For producers and presenters, this would involve examining their programming and marketing, the use of language and images etc. For organisations like JFS, it is also about asking ourselves what we can contribute – is it through running education and CPD projects that celebrate gender diversity or perhaps about being a source of information for our scene and publishing information on our website?                             Kim will be part of the working group that will build on this initial discussion in the coming months.

Celebrating Cultural Identity: Often when we travel for work, either as musicians or to conferences and events throughout the year, we see little more than the airport and the venue of the place we visit. EJN are committed to celebrating cultural identity and their conference was designed with that in mind. This meant that instead of every session taking place in the conference venue, some sessions took the form of guided walks around the local area. Led by artists who were able to share their experiences with the group, these walks visited buildings and locations of significance to them and these then sparked discussion about a number of issues in the wider jazz sector. Venues included both the Philharmonic Hall and the music school, but also a nearby squat, which was now a hub for live performances and closely connected to the refugee community.

The care and consideration that had gone into curating sessions like these was evident and is a great example of the way Jazz From Scotland can approach cultural identity in the future.

More information on the Europe Jazz Network can be found here – www.europejazz.net