THE JAZZ CENTRE (UK) - AN INTRODUCTION - Digby Fairweather
A recent book about jazz in the UK has confirmed that our music in some form has been heard in Britain since 1880! But we also know that there has never been a flagship centre for our art form in the UK in the same way that (for example) the Cecil Sharpe House in Hampstead has represented, celebrated and promoted folk music ever since it opened in l930.
So, over the past eighteen months, myself – and a group of six Trustees – have combined in order to plan a project to put this matter to rights, and the result, this year, has been the creation of ‘The Jazz Centre UK’. TJCUK was registered as a Charitable Incorporated Organization (CIO 1167421) on June 2nd 2016 and has since been registered for Gift-Aid with HMRC. The organization has also signed a ten-year Service Level Agreement with Southend Borough Council to develop the project over the next three years. Our Patrons include (so far) Dame Cleo Laine, Sir Michael Parkinson, Sir Van Morrison, Jools Holland, the eminent authority Dan Morgenstern (former Director of the Rutgers Institute of Jazz Studies in New Jersey), Paul Jones, Simon Spillett and Alan Barnes.
The JCUK opened its first department on February 6th 2016 in Southend’s Beecroft Art Gallery. Its collections (so far) include a research facility of books and journals; a small museum (including the collections of the late Humphrey Lyttelton the first piano of Sir John Dankworth and the trumpets of Louis Armstrong and Nat Gonella) and an extensive library of jazz on film. The department enjoys full internet facilities for extended research (with private study carrels for its users) and also celebrates the music with jazz on record, film presentations in our 110-seat cinema and an informal jazz cafe for visitors.
Longer-term however our ambitions extend far more widely and plans have been proposed for a full Heritage museum, an art gallery, a sound-archive for the music (including recorded jazz on 78, vinyl and CD) and a 200-seat dedicated performance space to be modelled on London’s legendary ‘100 Club’, Britain’s oldest jazz venue which opened as the Feldman Club in l942. Artefacts have been received from the club (via its former director, Roger Horton) and architect’s plans for developing and extending the centre have been drawn up by Robin Crane Associates in Esher Surrey. From October we will collaborate with Sarah Odell of Spires Heritage who will be raising funds to achieve the aims and objectives set out in our Business/Strategic plan 2016-18. These include a wide variety of community-based projects, educational outreach programmes, oral history projects, digitization of our collections – and of course public performance too: anything, in short, which relates to our stated purpose to the Charity Commission:’ to preserve, promote and celebrate the culture of jazz in all its forms in Britain and beyond’.
We have enjoyed enthusiastic support for our plans from a variety of eminent sources including Gary Newbon (Sky Television/Sports) Pablo Ettinger (co-founder of Caffe Nero) and Sir Michael Parkinson who is presenting his new one-man show as a fundraiser for us in our 1650-set Cliffs Pavilion Theatre on Saturday December 3rd 2016. We have also received widespread support from other generous (and extremely high-profile) donors who wish to remain anonymous.
My Board and I are aware of the magnitude of this project but are collectively determined that it must – and will –succeed. Southend-on-Sea enjoys two fast rail services from London (less than an hour) and a newly-flourishing airport and – given appropriate artistic direction – we feel that our facility should be as attractive and potentially successful as the Turner Modern Gallery in Margate which has served as one of our principal role models during our planning sessions.
The Jazz Centre UK - c/o Beecroft Art Gallery, Victoria Avenue, Southend-on-Sea, Essex SS09 6EX
Telephone:01702 215169. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheJazzCentreUK/. Twitter: https://twitter.com/thejazzcentreuk
This entry was posted on April 5, 2017