Tag Archives: Premier Baillieu

MELBOURNE JAZZ CO-OP FIGHTS BACK

Martin Jackson

Glass half empty? Martin Jackson faces a lean year in the Melbourne Jazz Co-operative’s mission to support musicians and live music in Melbourne.

There will be no Arts Victoria money for the Melbourne Jazz Co-operative next year, unless pressure can be applied to have this decision reversed. Now the co-operative is putting its case:

The MJC has issued the following statement:

The State’s Arts Victoria has again set itself on a collision course with the local jazz community over its latest rejection of two funding applications from the Melbourne Jazz Co-operative. Its refusal to support the MJC comes as the co-operative gets ready to celebrate a milestone achievement for any arts organization – its 30th anniversary in January with events at Federation Square and the City Square.

Its impressive record of achievements include providing over 100 performances annually (featuring over 100 different ensembles) since 1998 via its twice weekly series at Bennetts Lane Jazz Club, enabling young and established creative and improvising jazz musician to be heard. It has been at the start of most jazz careers for local musicians. In 1997 it also founded, developed and has continued to support, the Women’s International Jazz Festival. It has done all this while struggling to secure adequate funds from arts funding bodies from year to year to support local musicians.

Triple-ARIA winning pianist/composer Andrea Keller commented today that, “I really truly value all the opportunities you’ve given me since 1997 – I’m quite certain I wouldn’t be the musician I am without the MJC”.

Yet while the Music Board of the Australia Council has consistently seen fit to fund the co-operative for 31 consecutive years, the Baillieu State Government has declined to put in any corresponding funds for 2013. In contrast, the NSW State Government has again kicked in $130,000 to support its two local jazz advocacy groups in 2013.

The Government spokesperson’s defence of these results has been that, “The Victorian Government has been a very generous supporter of the Melbourne International Jazz Festival, which received over $500K in support this year. Similarly, a number of jazz artists have benefited through the contemporary music grants in recent years”.

MJC Artistic Director Martin Jackson responded that, “If our state arts funding body cannot grasp the fundamental distinction between a 10-day festival and support of the Melbourne’s on-going jazz community, then this should be a major concern. Contemporary jazz is different to classical music because it is created by individuals collaborating together in ensembles within a jazz community”.

If the response to this news on Facebook is any indication, Melbourne’s Jazz musicians – not normally inclined to get involved in politics — are not going to take this lying down.

Adrian Jackson, artistic director of the Wangaratta Jazz and Blues Festival and Stonnington Jazz, has sent a protest letter to the Arts Minister and Liberal Premier Ted Baillieu.

Among those joining in what is becoming a storm of protest after it was posted on Facebook is performer Tracy Bartram. The MJC has set up a Facebook causes page and is collecting signatures on a petition to be sent to the State Government challenging its decision to disenfranchise the state’s jazz community in its funding allocations for 2013.

Prominent jazz identities Mike Nock, Tony Gould, Rob Burke and Barney McAll have weighed in with their support for MJC in its battle to regain some funding. MJC has released their statements:

Robert Burke, saxophonist and head of the School of Music and Co-ordinator of Jazz and Popular Music at Monash University:

The Melbourne Jazz Co-op has been the catalyst for development of jazz and music in the state of Victoria and nationally. On minimal funding the Co-op has nurtured artists and presented ‘cutting edge’ music that is internationally significant.

Professor Tony Gould, improvising pianist and Australia’s first Professor of Jazz. Monash University, School of Music:

For many years the Melbourne Jazz Co-op has been a major factor in promoting the great art of improvisation. It should be supported wholeheartedly by musicians and listeners who value music in Melbourne. Indeed the co-op has made an invaluable contribution to creative music-making.

Mike Nock, pianist, composer, bandleader, Lecturer in piano (Jazz) at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, Sydney University and holder of the ONZM, the New Zealand Order of Merit:

The Melbourne Jazz Co-op’s on going commitment to supporting and presenting the very best modern jazz available should be a model for similar societies around Australia. The consistent and knowledgeable depth of programming has seen many deserving groups gain exposure to their music, in the process, making the MJC a trusted go-to source for fans and an invaluable resource that continues to contribute hugely to the vibrancy of the local scene.

Barney McAll, Melbourne-born internationally performing pianist and composer, now based in New York:

The MJC has been a life buoy in a sea of funding cuts, musician misrepresentation and of venues/club owners with agendas. Even amidst its own poor funding, the MJC has managed to foster so much of the best creative music Australia has to offer. Co-op gigs give musicians a platform to prepare and compose for that is pure and open. This is vital. If music fights evil, than so does the MJC! In a culture which is increasingly all about profit, personal gain and self service, Martin Jackson (MJC artistic director) is a man who is all about music.

Saxophonist Jamie Oehlers, winner of the 2003 White Foundation World Saxophone Competition and coordinator of Jazz Studies at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts:

The Melbourne Jazz Co-op has been an incredible support to me and many of the projects I have been involved in over the past 15 years. The MJC has given opportunities to so many rising artists as well as established performers, helping to further enhance and develop this music both artistically and publicly. A landmark on the Australian jazz scene for both national artists and local artists. I know we are all extremely thankful for its existence and the hard work contributed by Martin and his team.

Ausjazz blog will do all it can to help fight this Arts Victoria decision. More news as it comes to hand.

ROGER MITCHELL

ARTS VICTORIA DUMPS MELBOURNE JAZZ CO-OP

Martin Jackson

Glass half empty? Martin Jackson faces a lean year in the Melbourne Jazz Co-operative’s mission to support musicians and live music in Melbourne.

There will be no Arts Victoria money for the Melbourne Jazz Co-operative next year, unless pressure can be applied to have this decision — described as “so obviously wrong” by Adrian Jackson — reversed.

As anger in the jazz community in Melbourne turns to planning for a public campaign to demonstrate that patrons and musicians are not happy, we are all being urged to take this issue up with Premier Ted Baillieu and our local MPs — of whatever political hue.

Let’s make sure the hue and cry starts immediately and does not let up until Arts Victoria and the State Government are embarassed into a backdown.

For any live music fans not familiar with how important the co-operative is for musicians and those who enjoy their work, MJC regularly supports gigs at venues such as Bennetts Lane, Uptown Jazz Cafe, ensuring that those who provide the creativity, inventiveness and, yes, music do not have to get by on door deals.

This decision is particularly galling as the co-op comes into its 30th year.

For any who are not on Facebook, I have taken the liberty of publishing the following comments that have followed the initial posting of the news by festival artistic director Adrian Jackson. (If anyone wants their views removed, let me know.)

Adrian Jackson: Hard to believe that whatever ‘music experts’ were on the advisory panel for Arts Victoria thought it would be a good idea to give the Melbourne Jazz Co-op zero funding in 2013. If the outcome is so obviously wrong, something must be wrong with the process.

Peter Rechniewski: There is something rotten within the body of Arts Victoria.

Aren Hill: Just terrible

Peter Rechniewski: Frankly, I think legal advice should be sought as to whether the “experts” knew anything about or were in fact sympathetic or hostile to this music.

Leon Gettler: Can that be re-negotiated?

Andrew Dickeson: Disgraceful. I wonder how much they’d be willing to disclose about the processes & decisions.

Adrian Jackson: Leon, Well, officially they don’t renegotiate funding decisions. But I suspect that this could be like the dumb decisions (by Arts Vic and City Of Melbourne) to withdraw funding for the Melbourne International Jazz Festival in 2002. They obviously thought they could pull their funding for a jazz event and no-one would care. Instead, they bought a shitstorm of negative publicity that money couldn’t buy, and rectified the mistake on the next funding round. I suspect this may be history about to repeat.

Adrian Jackson: Their justification ‘well, we did put over $500k into the Melbourne Jazz Festival’ doesn’t really cut it. It’s like the AFL deciding to cancel the home and away season, but still financing the grand final.

Barney McAll: In a culture which is increasingly all about profit, personal gain and self service, go see Martin Jackson’s record collection you can see a man that is all about music.

Shannon Barnett: Who should we contact to express dismay at this decision?

Niko Schauble: Lamentable! A petition?

Gianni Marinucci: This is unaccaceptable and we must fight it. I say we organize another rally like we did in 2002. I bet the mso still got their funding.

Nick Haywood: That is appalling. Could it (although this is ridiculous) be in part because the word “jazz” is so broad and means many different things to different people – not always positive. Would calling it something like “new music” for example make any difference? I know this shouldn’t matter as it it the substance of what the jazz coop puts on that is important, and it IS very important. I personally think jazz is the right word –
Maybe funding bodies need to be educated as to what this word actually means in 2012/13?

Nat Bartsch: Such a huge shame.

Adrian Jackson: Shannon, I would suggest that every musician/music lover who is a registered voter in Victoria should contact their local MLA. If they’re Labor, ask them to make an issue of it; if they’re Liberal, alter them that it could be a vote-changer at the next election.

Adrian Jackson: Niko, I expect a petition will be organised

Adrian Jackson: Nick, arguable whether the word ‘jazz’ is a factor or not. I expect the problem is that the ‘expert’ advisers on the panel either know nothing about jazz, or are actually hostile to music outside their own area of interest ; hard to otherwise explain why they would recommend totally abandoning support to the Co-op.

Roger Mitchell: It is a shock and a shame. Martin Jackson and the Melbourne Jazz Co-op perform such a vital role in ensuring that live jazz and improvised music is alive and well in Melbourne. As Gianni says, we must fight this, whether via MPs or on the streets or both.

Blue Keys: Wow, that’s bad news maestro. What on earth were they thinking? I can tell them what the importance is for international artists if you want me to.

Adrian Jackson: oj, anyone who would like to protest this decision, please contact your local member, as suggested above.

Also contact the Premier of Victoria, and Minister for the Arts, Ted Baillieu via Phone: (03) 9651 5000 Fax: (03) 9651 5054
Email: ted.baillieu@parliament.vic.gov.au
Website: http://www.premier.vic.gov.au

For further information, here is the text of an open letter from Adrian Jackson to Premier Baillieu:

Dear Premier
I am writing to you in your capacity as Minister for the Arts, to express my extreme disappointment in the recent decision by Arts Victoria to withdraw its funding support for the Melbourne Jazz Co-operative in 2013.

I understand that funding budgets are limited, and that not every worthy applicant can be funded. But I have to suggest, with respect, that the process that arrived at this outcome is seriously flawed, and needs to be fixed.

Those of us who are involved in the jazz community are proud of the fact that Victoria is recognised as the leading centre for jazz activity in Australia. This reputation is based on the ongoing success of events like the Melbourne International Jazz Festival and the Wangaratta Jazz festival (both of which enjoy significant support from your government), as well as events like Stonnington Jazz, the Melbourne Jazz Fringe Festival and the Melbourne International Womens Jazz Festival ; respected tertiary courses at Monash Uni, the VCA and NMIT ; venues like Bennetts Lane, Paris Cat, Uptown Jazz Cafe, Dizzys and more ; the national Australian Art Orchestra, which is based in Melbourne ; and the many outstanding bands and individual artists who are based in Melbourne.

The Melbourne Jazz Co-op, over the last 30 years, has played a vital role in helping create the vibrant jazz scene that Melbourne now boasts. Its ongoing performance series provide valuable performance opportunities for both established and emerging bands ; it provides guaranteed performance fees which, sadly, is not the norm on the local scene. It gives local audiences the chance to hear bands from interstate, or to hear local musicians collaborating with interstate or international artists. It has provided valuable support to help new venues and festivals become established.

The Co-op has been the major presenting organisation for 30 years, a fact made possible by ongoing support from Arts Victoria and the Australia Council for the Arts. Ironically, the Co-op was planning a major concert in January 2013 to celebrate its 30th anniversary. It now seems likely that this concert will become a focal point for a campaign of protest from musicians and music fans who find this withdrawal of support from Arts Victoria hard to understand. It simply doesn’t make any sense. I can only assume that the ‘expert advisers’ on the assessment panels concerned did not include anyone who has any understanding of how the jazz scene functions in Melbourne.

If anything, Arts Victoria should have been seriously considering an increased level of funding for the MJC in 2013. It is worth comparing the level of support for the major presenting organisation in Melbourne ($40k in 2012, $0 in 2013) with the level of support offered by Arts NSW to the two counterpart organisations in Sydney (in 2012, Arts NSW provided $90k to the Sydney Improvised Music Association, and $40k to the Jazzgroove Association ; these figures will be the same in 2013).

I urge you to reconsider this funding decision ; and at the very least, to review the process that made such a flawed outcome possible.

Yours sincerely,
Adrian Jackson
(artistic director, Wangaratta Jazz and Stonnington Jazz)

Ausjazz blog will do all it can to help fight this. More news as it comes to hand.

ROGER MITCHELL