Welsh Jazz Society complaint upheld – Arts Council of Wales issues an apology


Welsh Jazz Society complaint upheld

Arts Council of Wales issues an apology

As a result of the decision by the Arts Council of Wales to cease funding the Welsh Jazz Society from July 2008, the Society submitted a formal complaint to the Public Services Ombudsman (under Section 21 of the Public Services Ombudsman (Wales) Act 2005) alleging maladministrations by the Arts Council of Wales.

The Ombudsman’s Report was issued on 1st December 2009 and contained the following summary:

My investigation led me to conclude that the ACW were not justified in including in its letter notifying the WJS of its decision to cease funding the WJS, a statement commenting adversely on the performance of the WJS as a promoter of jazz events. I have upheld that part of the complaint. To remedy the consequent injustice of reputational damage to the WJS I have recommended that the ACW withdraw the statement and apologise for including it in the letter. The ACW have agreed to do this.”

“My investigation has not led me to identify any other shortcomings in the way the ACW arrived at its decision to withdraw funding from the WJS or handle its appeal process, including its then commitment to consult about reviews that could lead to the cessation of funding. I have not therefore upheld any other part of the complaint.”

Reactions to the Ombudsmans Report from WJS Trustee were as follows:

Brian Hennessey, the Managing Director, commented:

“From the reasons given for the withdrawal of funding, it could be concluded that “services to the jazz music sector in Wales” was an integral part of ACW strategy but being neglected by the Society. It is surprising therefore that since the Welsh Jazz Society was relieved of this responsibility, no other group, society or organisation has been asked to undertake this valued role.”

Gill Evans a trustee of the WJS stated:

Education is a large part of the remit of the Arts Council. Jazz as a musical genre is recognised both at university degree level and part of mainstream education.   The Welsh Joint Education Committee includes jazz as part of the curriculum for both GCSE and A Level Music. The University of Wales Cardiff School of Music offers a jazz module during the second year and jazz is also a subject included in their study options for an MA/MMus/PhD.  The Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama offer a BMus (Hons) Jazz and an MA Jazz. Wales has a reputation of excellence in Jazz – but a small number of performance opportunities. The emergence of enormously talented students currently training in Wales, at tax payer’s expense, will be forced to look for work elsewhere.

It would appear that the only institution – funded by the Welsh Assembly in connection with music performance and music education –  that does not recognise this rising tide of talent in jazz, and the growing  audience for it, is the Arts Council of Wales”.

Chris Hodgkins, a trustee and a founder of the Welsh Jazz Society, said that the:

 “The Actions of the ACW display all the hallmarks of a dysfunctional organisation at large which is notable for a complete lack of planning and commitment of resources to jazz activity throughout Wales. The National Assembly of Wales would perform an invaluable service to the taxpayer in Wales if it conducted a thorough review of the operational effectiveness and efficiency of the ACW. The organisations  corporate plan is straight out of Alice in Wonderland, with an executive pay policy that appears to have come  from the Royal Bank of Scotland”.

Monty Coffin, Chairman of the Welsh Jazz Society, said of the Arts Council of Wales decision:

 “The Ombudsman’s decision has removed one of the two reasons given by ACW for termination of Welsh Jazz Society funding.  The other reason was that WJS did not fit in with their minimal policy for jazz. The decision was arrived at with little or no consultation – none at all with us.  The ACW jazz policy was already in tatters with the demise of the original Brecon Jazz Festival.  What is ACW policy for jazz now?  Why was there no Jazz Review, as promised, in 2002?  It almost seems as if ACW decided to axe our funding first and then look for reasons later”. The Welsh Jazz Society demands that the Arts Council for Wales undertakes a full review of jazz in Wales with adequate consultation with interested and involved parties.

For a detailed explanation of events leading up to the ACW apology,   Welsh Jazz Society and Arts Council Wales    – it makes interesting reading!

 Jazz Productions -Wales.

 26, The Balcony, Castle Arcade, Cardiff CF10 1BY U.K.

Tel: 02920 665161

Attached documents (click to download)

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