Arts Council England axes Jazz Services and provides a sweetener to English National Opera

In the recent Arts Council funding round Jazz Services did not secure funding. To put the cut in context it is always useful for people to look at the work Jazz Services has undertaken by visiting the last Annual Report – a labour intensive exercise with two more are on the way

Jazz Services has done a sterling job and will continue to operate in an effective, helpful and efficient manner and no doubt examine its remit. Jazz Services was asked to help the National Youth Jazz Orchestra back in 2009. The advice and bridge-building that Jazz services offered was a huge factor in NYJO understanding the problems they faced and what needed to be done, and then putting together an action plan for reform which has manifestly worked. This is a huge credit to JSL and NYJO – and actually to the Arts Council as well, which produced the original diagnosis on NYJO and advised NYJO to take advice from JSL.

Jazz Services has also actively lobbied on behalf of jazz in the UK and the latest document in response to the Culture Media and Sport select Committee on Arts Council funding is published at:

The report is well worth reading as it demonstrates the effectiveness of Jazz Services operations in touring and promoter support.

However what concerns me is the overall lack of funding for jazz in the UK. Jazz is one of the least expensive serious art forms to produce, and one where relatively small amounts of subsidy can have an enormous effect on the viability of tours and concerts. Jazz musicians are rarely well-paid, but they love their art and take any opportunity they can to perform it, however poor the remuneration. Jazz promoters are usually enthusiasts for the music, and organise events for that reason rather than to make profits. Unlike theatre or opera, the infrastructure requirements for a performance are basic and inexpensive, and hence easy to arrange in a wide variety of locations throughout the UK. Jazz is an art form which is both easy and cost-effective to support in many parts of the country which other more expensive art forms cannot reach.

To take the above in context with the bigger picture let’s look at the recent funding round. English National Opera received a cut of £5 million from £17 million to £12 million. However it would appear from an article in the Guardian on the 2nd July 2014 (ENO forced to tighten its reins while 58 groups lose all funding from Arts Council) that the funding of English National Opera (ENO) was a done deal as ENO was given an inducement of £7.6 million to “help in the transition of its business plan”. Did the Arts Council of England offer this kind of help to the organisations who lost their funding?

Even with a cut in ENO funding opera funding increased from £50.5 million in 2012/13 to £59.2 million in 2015/16. Jazz increased its overall funding from £1.25 million in 2012/13 to £1.67 million in 2015/16 but Jazz Services was cut which means the real increase was an exercise in robbing Peter to pay Pauline. Classical music funding was reduced from £18.9 million in 2012/13 to £16.9 million in 2015/16. The audience for opera is 1.67 million attenders, for classical music 3.29 million attenders and for jazz 2.67 million attenders.More and more Arts Council England is beginning to resemble a dodgy hedge fund.

Please click on Arts Council England and the second National Portfolio round 2015-2018 for details of the funding allocations to opera, classical music and jazz from 1991 to 2016

Share this post: