With my co-author, postdoctoral research assistant Dr Emma Webster, I’m pleased to draw attention to our newest project output This is a peer-reviewed article for Jazz Research Journal focussed on the impact of jazz festivals in particular. (The wider project embraces pop, folk and classical music festivals too, of course.) The article’s abstract is below. You can access freely a copy of the article here. It appears in Jazz Research Journal 9(2), pp.169-193. Below also is a short film in which I talk a little about the jazz festivals research of the project.
Festivals are an essential part of the jazz world, forming regularly occurring pivot points around which jazz musicians, audiences and organizers plan their lives. Funded by the UK’s Arts and Humanities Research Council, the purpose of this report is to chart and critically examine available writing about the impact of jazz festivals, drawing on both academic and ‘grey’/cultural policy literature in the field. The review presents research findings under the headings of economic impact; socio-political impact; temporal impact and intensification and transformation of experience; creative impact—music and musicians; discovery and audience development; place-making; the mediation of jazz festivals; and environmental impact. It concludes with a set of recommendations for future research, which identifies gaps in the field. To accompany the article, a 100-entry 40,000-word annotated bibliography has also been produced, which is freely accessible online.
The Impact of Festivals project will generate two outputs: a report for the AHRC on the impact of festivals, based on a literature review and interviews with audience members and festival directors, and a critical history of the London Jazz Festival, which will be published as a book in 2017 as part of the Festival’s 25th anniversary.
The Streets is a project devised by EFG London Jazz Festival (LJF) producer, Serious, to ‘showcase the local streetscape and unlock the potential of high streets’ with the aims of spectacle, discovery, and participation. The first phase of the project started in July 2015 and consisted of a series of events across seven boroughs (Waltham Forest, Redbridge, Greenwich, Croydon, Wandsworth, Richmond upon Thames and Kingston upon Thames). As Serious co-Director Claire Whitaker said to a group of students about the event: ‘The sun came out, people spent money in shops; the project was a success’. The second phase coincided with the LJF in November 2015, a deliberate ploy which allowed the organisers to take advantage of the increased number of touring musicians in the city and increased opportunities for the musicians to earn money and build an audience. Continue reading The Streets – unexpected musical happenings on Leyton High Street – Emma Webster
Back at the beginning of October I tore my calf muscle playing badminton – I have been on crutches ever since, although my leg is getting stronger daily. Whilst at no point wishing to suggest that I could understand what it is like to be chronically disabled, it has given me a small insight into mobility issues at festival about which I was previously less cognisant.
The EFG London Jazz Festival (LFJ) is predominantly venue-based – some of the fringe Streets events take place in the open air, but most, if not all, of the LJF events are indoors and most are seated. One of the things audience members have told me is that they like the variety of the Festival, in that it spans some of the largest venues in London to some of the smallest. While the larger, Arts Council-funded venues have to have an equality action plan, smaller venues do not generally have to abide by such rules and hence accessibility, or the lack thereof, may be an issue. Continue reading London on crutches – thoughts on the (in)accessibility of festivals – Emma Webster
One of the thoughts that I keep coming back to, and about which I have been talking with audience members, is about how the EFG London Jazz Festival (LJF) fits into London and whether its very size has an impact on people’s experience of it as a ‘festival’. Responses have varied, from those who feel strongly that the LJF does not feel like a festival, to those for whom the LJF is the first event which springs to mind when they think of ‘festival’. As co-Director of Serious, Claire Whitaker, commented yesterday, “There is the equivalent of a festival going on every night in London”, and signs of the Festival are often only overt at the festival venues themselves.Continue reading A London festival – how the city impacts on festival – Emma Webster
The EFG London Jazz Festival is often described as an ‘umbrella’ for events taking place within it. Events take place at venues such as Ronnie Scott’s which operate all year round, with the addition of special events with ‘big name’ artists promoted by Serious, the Festival’s producer, and other special gigs. However, I suggest that rather than an umbrella – a device for sheltering and protecting – the Festival is instead an amplifier of cultural activity. As an amplifier, the Festival increases and intensifies existing activity and in doing so, attracts other media and hence – in the case of radio – literally amplifies the music beyond usual levels of activity. In the case of the London Jazz Festival, this is through media partnerships with BBC Music and Jazz FM, but jazz is also getting more coverage than usual in broadsheets and other media as a result. Continue reading Festival as amplifier rather than umbrella? – Emma Webster