Here’s One I Made Earlier…

Following our inspiring few days down at the London Jazz Festival, I thought it might be interesting to share this blog post I wrote last year about Manchester International Festival. This picks up some of the themes that we are interested in exploring as part of the project, so worth a little recycle me thinks…

Originally appeared on http://ontheplatform.org.uk/article/rethinking-sustainable-festivals-spotlight-manchester-international-festival, 2014

Sustainable Spotlight on Manchester International Festival

Manchester International Festival (MIF) is the world’s first festival of original, new work and special events and takes place biennially in Manchester, UK. The Festival launched in 2007 as an artist-led, commissioning festival presenting new works from across the spectrum of performing arts, visual arts and popular culture. In this article, drawing on interviews with different members of the MIF team, Beth Perry highlights their less well popularized but equally important role in contributing to Greater Manchester’s environmental sustainability.

MIF prides itself on having made a significant commitment to reducing the environmental impacts of its office operations and was the first festival to be independently certified as meeting the sustainable events standard, BS8901, as well as a recipient of A Greener Festival award. Whilst the ethos of being artist-led is central to their mission, benefitting the local economy, engaging local communities and minimizing its environmental impact are also stated core principles. Examples of activities have included: greening the office space; sourcing and creating productions responsibly and working with partner venues to reduce the environmental impact of MIF events.

Greening the Office Space (more…)

About the CHIME logo

chime-logoThe CHIME logo, designed by Marijn van Beek in collaboration with PI Walter van de Leur, captures some of the main ideas that come together in the project. The main form is inspired by the quote that opened our proposal:

“What an amazing experience, the clash of seeing Miles Davis in the Roman amphitheatre during the Nice Jazz Festival. The ancient stones and arches are resounded, the music somehow more resonant, old and modern at the same time. I’ll never forget that…”

The amphitheatre – its individual segments suggestive of castle towers — at the same time alludes to an LP record, while its colour scheme calls up the 1950s jazz cover art for Blue Note, Prestige and Atlantic.

The font of the lettering is called Montserrat, which is the name of a number of heritage sites across the world, from Catalonia to Buenos Aires. And yes, there is a Montserrat jazz festival (at the Montserrat College of Art, USA). And no, there are no bell chimes to be found in our logo.

CHIME at the EFG London Jazz Festival (Saturday 21 November)

Following the inception event, CHIME team members also delivered public engagement panels as part of the EFG London Jazz Festival.

At the Barbican Centre, Prof. Tim Wall (Birmingham City University) chaired a panel on jazz and cultural heritage, featuring project team members Prof. Walter van de Leur (University of Amsterdam) and Dr. Beth Perry (University of Salford), together with Eric Arellano (Gamlestaden Jazz Festival) and Emily Jones (Cheltenham International Jazz Festival).

Emily, Eric, Tim, Beth and Walter on jazz and cultural heritage
Festival organisers and academics discussing jazz and cultural heritage

The panel explored jazz as part of cultural heritage and music as a tool for regeneration and social change. Questions that were asked included: How can the arts and arts festivals play a role in addressing issues of environmental and social sustainability? In which ways could or should grassroots cultural activity contribute to further urban development. Can jazz address a wider audience, except for middle-aged white men? Audience members vividly contributed to the discussion, giving insights into the many ways in which jazz is interpreted (i.e. both as a political and a non-political music) and experienced (i.e. as a music of the past and/or the present).

As a prelude to that night’s concert of Ice-T and Ron McCurdy and their Langston Hughes Project, CHIME member Dr. Nicholas Gebhardt (Birmingham City University) chaired a panel discussion on the legacy of Langston Hughes.

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Reporting on the CHIME inception event

Screen Shot 2015-11-21 at 12.45.33A group of international scholars and festival organisers and music producers gathered at the Royal Festival Hall in London during the EFG London Jazz Festival to launch the project. I took some notes, both for the record and to help us shape 2016 meeting agendas and work.

Project leader Prof Tony Whyton (Birmingham City University) introduced the day, reminding us of the project’s key questions around heritage sites, jazz festivals—ranging from jazz as a heritage music from itself today to urban regeneration to difficult questions of the intangible impact of festivals on festival-goers.

Prof Helene Brembeck and Merja Liimatainen (University of Gothenburg) talked of the place of consumption at festival as a core experience for festival-goers, in particular in the context of the presentation and consumption of heritage, memory, the past, at jazz festivals. How does music re-sound the architecture of the city at festival? The Swedish team will be looking at contrasting jazz festivals in Gothenburg, Gamlestaden Festival and the Classic Jazz Festival, a process of embedded research within the organisations and ethnography and cultural history, critical interrogation of festival imagery, publicity and events and venues.

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CHIME Inception Event

PrintThe CHIME Project team will officially launch the project at an Inception Event on Friday 20 November, during EFG London Jazz Festival. The event, held at the Southbank Centre in London, will provide partners with an opportunity to come together to talk about their work, to share ideas, and to discuss ways in which CHIME research can impact on different festivals and heritage organisations.

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Supported by Associated Partner MISTRA, the Inception Event will also bring together representatives from case study festivals, including London, Cheltenham and the GMLSTN Festival in Gothenburg to explore audience development initiatives and plans for creating digital tools to support their programming, audience participation and partnerships with heritage sites.

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Short film of CHIME project at Lancaster Jazz Festival, 2015

One mid-September day I decided to stroll from my home, a Victorian town house on the edge of Lancaster city centre, into town to see some of the bands playing on the free outdoors stage in the 2015 Lancaster Jazz Festival.

I was going anyway—it’s my local festival, I’m a jazz scholar and musician, and I usually do something in the festival each year, and always look forward to it—but I thought today I would take a videocamera to film the short journey. You can see the short film I made here, and below are some notes about it.

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Urban Design, Seashells and the Jazz Buff

imgres-2It’s not every day that an international conference starts with the national host welcoming everyone by blowing through different sized seashells and the event manager giving a comedy demonstration of a buff, showing delegates different ways in which a garment – purposely designed for the event – could be worn and used. But this is no ordinary conference. It’s the gathering of Europe Jazz Network, a pan-European group that brings together promoters, festivals, venues and national music agencies to discuss issues, opportunities, and collaborative ideas around jazz and improvised music today.

CPrtbGHWoAAALutOnce the seashells performance and jazz buff demonstration were over, EJN President Ros Rigby welcomed Professor Christopher Dell to the stage to deliver a performance-based keynote speech that described an improvisational approach to urban planning, architecture and design. Interspersing examples of theory and practice with short improvisations on the vibraphone, Dell drew on the work of Henri Lefebvre to argue that cities and spaces should no longer be understood as fixed objects, and instead advocated an improvisation-led approach to architecture and urban design which encourages both a hands-on and reflexive exploration of spaces and materials.

Although not talking specifically about festivals and heritage sites, the talk resonated with the CHIME project in several ways, most notably by encouraging the audience to think about the way in which places are used and re-used and how urban environments are understood as both produced and performative spaces today.  CHIME will add to this discourse about how spaces can be reconfigured, transformed and reimagined over time and will extend the focus of study to landscapes, rural settings, post-industrial sites and other heritage settings.

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CHIME at the European Jazz Conference

banner-EJCEurope Jazz Network’s (EJN) European Jazz Conference kicks off in Budapest on 24 September. The event brings together festivals, venues, promoters and national agencies from across Europe to share good practices and to develop new initiatives and collaborations. The event will encourage debate around pan-European issues that have an impact on the arts and cultural sector and will include sessions on sustainability, professional development and education, as well as networking for seasonal festivals. There will also be a strong research focus, as the EJN builds on the work of its Strength in Numbers study and launches new initiatives around audience development and a history of European jazz.

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Welcome to CHIME!

Welcome to Cultural Heritage and Improvised Music in European Festivals (CHIME), a transnational research project that explores the uses and re-uses of cultural heritage through jazz and improvised music festivals.

imgresThe relationship between jazz, festivals, and heritage sites is a complex and underexplored field of enquiry. Since the late 1940s, jazz and improvised music festivals have developed synergetic relationships with heritage sites to the point where, in different European settings today, festivals employ and engage with a range of heritage forms. Festivals facilitate uses and re-uses of heritage and have a transformative impact on attitudes to place, identity and history, from events that draw on landscapes, stately homes, iconic buildings and sites of historic importance to performance projects that encourage new forms of engagement and participation. (more…)

Festivals

About

Cultural Heritage and Improvised Music in European Festivals (yes, CHIME) is a European research project supported by the JPI Heritage Plus programme.

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The project explores the uses and re-uses of different types of heritage through the study of jazz and improvised music festivals, and examines how changing relationships between music, festivals and cultural heritage sites renegotiate established understandings and uses of heritage. Our core focus on festivals reflects the important – if undervalued – position that festivals occupy in Europe’s cultural ecology, with their dynamic and synergetic relationship to spaces and cultural sites. We use jazz and improvised music as a lens through which to explore key issues in heritage research, drawing on the music’s unique and complex relationship to concepts of high and low culture, tradition, innovation, authenticity and (non)-European identity.

CHIME focuses on three thematic work packages: Improvising Heritage: jazz,
festivals and heritage sites
(UK); Marketising Heritage: jazz in urban spaces (Sweden); and Sounding Heritage: jazz festival landscapes in the Netherlands (The Netherlands).

Each work package will develop a programme of activities that feeds into the following research questions:

  • How does jazz music facilitate a connection to heritage and enable a reconfiguring of people’s relationship to place?
  • In what ways do jazz and improvised music festivals provide new models for engagement with cultural heritage?
  • How does music shape and inform understandings of cultural memory through uses and re-uses of heritage?
  • What synergies and frictions are created when festivals and heritage sites interact (from the negotiation of problems between conservation and use, to frictions between tourism and local interests etc.)?
  • In what ways can jazz and improvised music festivals act as lens to interrogate concepts of cultural identity?
  • How do music festivals blur the boundaries between tangible, intangible and digital heritage?

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