Report: Jazz Promotion Network Conference 2021

Jazz industry conference discussed inclusion, climate change, class crisis in jazz and the effect of Brexit and Covid-19 on live music

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The annual JPN (Jazz Promotion Network) conference took place this year as a hybrid of online and in-person events at the Southbank centre in partnership with the EFG London Jazz Festival. The two-day event saw guest speakers including Orphy Robinson MBE and journalist Kevin Le Gendre discuss the challenges with inclusion in jazz today across the music industry.

I was only able to attend the first day, where we were treated to a special talk hosted by Wim Wabbes, artistic director at the Handelsbeurs Concert Hall in Ghent and president of Europe Jazz Network. Wabbes is a passionate climate change activist and so much of his presentation analysed how the jazz sector can respond to the climate change emergency. During a Zoom call that mostly featured festival organisers and venue managers he focused on how the Handelsbeurs is run as a renewable and sustainable venue. He gave detail of how printed brochures have been replaced with public announcements and how bike repair stations are provided on site for all audience members who travel by two wheels.

The webinar continued throughout the afternoon with breakout rooms that we were able to enter. These smaller groups covered topics such as freedom of movement post-Brexit, class crisis in jazz and reviving jazz after Covid-19. Tomorrow’s Warriors also presented a discussion about jazz beyond education and how Janine Irons MBE shares her approach to working with young people.

JPN Conference, Southbank Centre, London, 19 & 20 November 2021, part of the 2021 EFG London Jazz Festival