It was 13th of March 2020, when the last lecture and group work with the students of the Master’s degree programme in Arts management at the campus of Sibelius Academy, as part of the Strategic Management Course, took place. In that period, the news about the pandemic were more frequent and some alarming news were coming from China and Italy, but yet the cultural field in Finland, and similarly in the rest of the world, could not even imagine what was going to take place in the coming months and year.
This piece is more about being true to oneself as an art professional, which entails embracing all aspects of one's existence, than it is about jazz or diversity.
We have persevered through a whole year of exceptional circumstances. The lengthened crisis has forced us to stop, adapt, and adjust our lives and activities to the ever-changing circumstances, where uncertainty is the only constant. Still, this abrupt stop may well lead to something good for a range of disciplines, including the music industry. One such view into a more positive future is provided by the Finnish project KEMUT – Sustainable music industry toolkit.
How the UMO Helsinki Jazz Orchestra and other professional European big bands responded to the first year of the pandemic (It’s not all bad)
I was talking on the telephone a few days ago with Bettina Uhlmann, the manager of the Zürich Jazz Orchestra in Switzerland. We’ve known each other for a long time, so after we discussed our official business the conversation moved on to “So, how is it really going?”
Her answer was “Well, at least we are not managing or conducting Choirs.”
This sums up the situation for jazz orchestras and big bands at the moment.
SaloJazz came to existence on a 2012 June evening at a bus stop in front of a local supermarket, as a result of a chance meeting with Ilkka Rantamäki, the Regional Artist for jazz music at that time. We both had identified a hole in the Salo event scene, waiting to be filled with an annual music event for adult audiences. We decided to go ahead and organise one. Guitarist Jonathan Kreisberg and his quartet had a Finnish tour organised for late September that year, and that determined the dates for the new festival. We added three local ensembles, and the program for the inaugural event was complete. Our main incentive was to kick-start a high-end music event which would grow steadily and still be around in ten years’ time.
This topic feels challenging to write about now when there is hardly any movement from Finland to abroad. The second season of Jazz Finland International, a project administered by Jazz Finland and designed to improve the export skills of Finnish jazz enterprises, was launched with positive expectations last year, but has ground to a halt this spring due to the worsening Coronavirus maelstrom. Jazz professionals still have their sights set internationally, but opportunities remain far and few between, despite many solid plans and available export support funds. Finland is far away from continental Europe, let alone the Americas or Asia, which remain effectively out of reach due to various restrictions regarding travel and size of gatherings. The situation would be very different if we were located in an area such as the south of Germany, just a few hours’ easy drive from a range of other European countries where, like in Finland, small events are still organised – although mostly programmed with local acts.
In this guest column, I examine municipal funding for jazz music on a general level, but in particular through my own, long-standing Jazzkerho -76 association from Joensuu.
When I participated in my first Europe Jazz Network conference in Istanbul in 2005, the network had 52 member organisations and it was easy to fit everyone into the family portrait. Since then, EJN has been steadily growing and in our board meeting this March it was noted that there are now 164 members.