Award-winning guitarist Nigel Price has called on Nadine Dorries to give support to the UK’s jazz live scene as it faces a parlous financial situation following the Covid pandemic.
In a letter to the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport, endorsed by Dame Cleo Laine and a large group of prominent musicians, educators, promoters and media representatives, Price has drawn attention to a serious lack of funding of the UK’s grassroots jazz infrastructure.
“I have appealed to Ms Dorries to ensure that financial support for this vital part of the UK’s jazz heritage is not overlooked in the Government’s well-documented push to kick start the Arts following the pandemic,” says Price. "We have already lost a number of promoters and venues who have succumbed to the dire financial straits faced by the jazz scene."
The letter addresses five key points:
Lack of accessibility to funding to those without dedicated premises and/or company status.
Disparity in funding between large and small venues.
The fiercely competitive nature of the Arts Council of England’s bidding process leading to a higher
Incidence of failure amongst grassroots promoters.
The urgent need for a simpler process to get help to these smaller venues.
A reply from DCMS has left Price and the 68 signatories to his letter, all of whom are winners of the Parliamentary Jazz Awards (the UK’s most prestigious annual jazz prizes) feeling that their claims have been dismissed.
“It’s clear that if we want a live artform that creates work for hundreds of musicians and means so much to so many people across the country to have any kind of future on these islands, then we are going to have to be prepared to fight for it,” says Price.
Price hopes that his initial exchange with the DCMS will be the beginning rather than the end of the discussion and will prompt wider action to support the people who keep the jazz scene alive, many of whom are volunteers who give up a great deal of their spare time to run weekly gigs through a love of the music.