First off, I know we have now entered February but, Happy New Year to you all.
Secondly, let me present to you…
Jazz re:freshed 2015 statement of intent
2014 was a mixed year for Jazz re:freshed. We had some incredible sessions at the Mau Mau weekly residency, we were also included in the New Music Biennial project and we celebrated 11 years of Jazz re:freshed, but possibly most significant of all, we were awarded NPO funding status from Arts Council England, to commence in April 2015 (more about this later).
The year was far from plain sailing though, with a really tough second half to the year, where we had to shelve two fantastic projects due to circumstances beyond our control, costing us dearly in more ways than one. We did however maintain a high level of quality live sessions at the weekly residency and managed to see off the year in upbeat fashion, with the collaborative JRF NYE party.
We also made some very big decisions in 2014, which affected all of the Jazz re:freshed team, both personally and professionally, the biggest decision being to incorporate Jazz re:freshed as a not-for-profit organisation.
In truth, 2015 couldn’t come soon enough for us and now it’s here, we’re already working hard to ensure it will be a successful a year and the beginning of a new era for Jazz re:freshed and the culture we represent.
So, what can you expect from us this year?
What to expect in 2015
2015 will see Jazz re:freshed expand its remit and operations, into uncharted waters for some projects. 2015 will also see a lot more resources being assigned to our existing operations – the weekly residency at Mau Mau Bar, the record label, T-shirts, mixes, blog, etc – reinforcing the very foundations of the movement. Jazz re:freshed will be seeking to become more consistent and prolific in all existing areas, with special attention being paid in that regard, to the record label and music releases.
Live music will always be the nucleus of what we do and the foundation upon which everything else is built, however we have decided this year to widen our focus to include exploration of the DJ aspect of the culture and the links between Jazz and contemporary genres and sub-genres of music. We believe the importance of DJ’s and club culture is seriously undervalued, especially by institutions that support the arts and in the Jazz world generally. In addition to starting a new club venture (Room 4 Movement) and having more guest DJ’s at the weekly residency, Jazz re:freshed will be engaging in various campaigns to get the art of DJ’ing recognised at all levels, as a respected artform worthy of artistic and institutional support.
Talking of artforms, we have always taken visual art, including film and video, very seriously, without being able to consistently support those media, outside of intermittent uploads and special projects. This year however, you will see a sustained campaign of art and video projects from the Jazz re:freshed production team, with structural changes within the organisation being made to facilitate this. This will include co-curating artwork at Mau Mau Bar, various video/film projects, a film club and the launch of the RE:SCORED live score project.
To further support the visual aspects of Jazz re:freshed, we intend to launch the Jazz re:freshed periodical in March/April – a photography & art centred magazine that will be published every six months, featuring a free album of music recorded live at Jazz re:freshed during that period, with each edition. The idea is to create a cultural scrapbook archiving and documenting Jazz re:freshed visually and sonically, whilst also creating an opportunity for patrons to submit content and be more connected to the movement. The first edition will be a retrospective of the first eleven years of Jazz re:freshed. We will be launching a crowdfunding campaign for pre-sales in the coming days, so keep an eye out for that.
This year, we are also keen to to build on the relationships we have forged with bands and artists over the years, working with them in a more hands-on fashion, through initiatives such as the RE:PRESENT band development programme and the offering of promo-asset package services.
We are also planning for a third year of JAZZ RE:FEST, with the intention of expanding the festival to accommodate more artistic elements and to include daytime activities to make it more family friendly. We are intending to bring it forward to July, as opposed to August in previous years. More info on the dates and format will be available in the coming weeks.
And of course, at long last, we will be launching our shiny new website in the coming weeks, complete with custom built, fully functioning, online shop. This has been a long time coming, we know, but it’s been all about getting it as right as we can – looking good and fit for purpose.
On becoming an NPO
Central to the new phase of Jazz re:freshed, is our becoming an Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation or NPO for short. But what is an NPO exactly? For those of you who are unaware, NPO’s are organisations that have been awarded funding by the Arts Council for a period of three years, after which they have to re-apply for the next three years and so on. To successfully receive NPO funding status is a status within itself, as it’s supposed to represent a recognition of the importance of what your organisation delivers to the cultural landscape of the UK.
With this status, you receive ongoing support and access to various resources, however it also means that you are monitored closely and your activities are subject to scrutiny, as you would expect when in receipt of public money. It’s not about being showered with money though, as the modest amount that we will receive is all strictly accounted for and we are also required to fundraise and match-fund. It does however, enable us to plan, expand and execute projects with confidence and consistency – something we’ve never truly had the opportunity to do.
At the core, our principal challenge remains the same as ever – changing peoples perceptions of the music and culture we represent. This goes to the heart of everything we are trying to achieve, especially when we are attempting to extend our reach and attract new audiences, in particular (but not exclusively) young people. Importantly, this also includes changing the attitudes and perceptions of some of the musicians and artists we work with and how they approach their craft and their careers.
There are many pre-existing challenges that have been amplified and also some uniquely new challenges that we will be facing in 2015, including match-funding, managing strict budgets, adapting to new roles and responsibilities, as well as developing bands, working to tight release schedules, producing a publication, etc.
One of the biggest challenges we face, is changing the attitude and perceptions of Jazz re:freshed as an organisation and getting the world to recognise that we are a serious outfit, with a significant contribution to make. Hopefully our actions will leave little doubt in this area.
We are confident 2015 will be a year of opportunities for Jazz re:freshed, which will in turn be an opportunity to work closely with different groups and individuals. This will include collaborations and co-productions with some familiar trusted faces and some fresh alliances too, both in the UK and around the world. We’d really like to create opportunities for others and open doors where we are able to, as we see this a key to the philosophy of Jazz re:freshed.
We are also looking to establish firm relationships with brands and businesses that reflect our own identity and the direction we are moving in. We are particularly interested in forming strong working bonds with independent creative businesses, to undertake projects and partnerships that elevate everyone involved.
On a global level, we will be grasping new opportunities to reaffirm overseas relationships and establish new ones, as we lay the foundations for future collaborations and projects abroad.
There is also a great opportunity to work with the patrons, audience and supporters of Jazz re:freshed, as we can’t do this without your support, feedback and contributions. During a dark period in 2014, a wise woman inspired me, by reminding me that events are first and foremost about community. The opportunity to work with like-minded individuals and grow our cultural community, is one of the things that excites us most, as we embark on this new year.
We are a very small, but extremely capable team, with a modest budget and big ideas, but fundamentally, at the heart of Jazz re:freshed is our passionate aim to promote, support and produce, art and artists of the highest quality, representing to the best of our ability, the music and culture that we love.
Art and Activism always.
Creative Director // Jazz re:freshed Limited