Response to the Arts Council England’s funding decision for 2015-2018
Chris Mountford, founder of The Band Project, commented, “The Arts Council England recently released details of its funding portfolio and it’s a travesty that Jazz Services has not been selected to receive NPO funding from April 2015 onwards.
Jazz is arguably the most expressive style of music – nearly entirely improvised, it means as a musician you learn to say what you’re feeling, thinking, experiencing through your instrument. I spent my teens playing at the jazz jam sessions across London and meeting the most skilled, dedicated, passionate musicians and amazing individuals. Although I never became a jazz musician all the musical lessons I learnt from UK greats like Gary Crosby OBE, Mark Mondesir, Julian Joseph and others have stayed with me and I use them in The Band Project’s teaching, working with kids playing Rock and Pop music to inspire the next generation and show that music of whatever style can be more than just a simple thrash through from A – B. To cut jazz services funding means stopping the grass roots jazz scene nationally and not allowing this wonderful music to evolve and develop. That lack of opportunity will drive jazz musicians further underground and leave less opportunity for musicians who want to take their instrument as far as they can or who don’t feel satisfied with playing a simple back beat. The flip side to this is that some of the UK jazz community has to recognise it is viewed as an elitist minority musical sector and not readily accessible. The responses of some musicians lashing out at successful bands and major festivals sums up the problem – they want respect for their craft but some assume that they are better than a rock band who express themselves with less notes and simpler chords. There is a place for everyone but only through awareness. However, this is the problem with cutting jazz services funding. How are people going to progress the genre, learn about it, love it and understand it if it’s so hidden from the mainstream with no support and with a perceived private members club mentality? I want young musicians to have the wonderful experiences I did and meet the good and great of the scene, because as a musician they have shaped me immeasurably, and with no funding comes no opportunity.”