On January 10-11, 2013 in New York City, the Jazz Connect conference will bring together a broad range of elements and constituencies of the jazz community in a series of workshops, panels, plenaries and special events, all dedicated to expanding the worldwide audience for jazz. Organized by JazzTimes and the Jazz Forward Coalition and supported by the Association of Performing Arts Presenters (APAP), this hands-on interactive conference aims to share best practices, provide tools to empower individuals and organizations, and establish a voice for jazz.
The jazz industry and community has been looking for a time and place to aggregate since the spring of 2009 when the International Association for Jazz Education (IAJE) folded. Various entities have been convening around APAP|NYC, the world’s largest networking forum and marketplace for performing arts professionals, but until now there has not been an overall tent for the entire jazz community to share its resources and collective power.
An initiative to create a stand-alone jazz confab began with APAP|NYC 2012, with multiple sessions over the course of six days, including: an all-day DIY seminar hosted by JazzTimes, a welcoming address, a series of pecha-kucha presentations (short visual presentations) from innovators in the field, three panels at APAP and a culminating town-hall session presented by the Jazz Forward Coalition. The Jazz Connect organizing committee decided to adapt the model further to create a focused event dedicated to the jazz community in 2013.
Peter Gordon, co-founder of Jazz Forward Coalition, president of Thirsty Ear Recordings and one of the conference’s organizers, sees the gathering as a well-timed opportunity for jazz to shape its future. “Though we live in uncertain times, market disruption is also market opportunity,” he says. “As the music industry positions itself to be part of the massive reorientation of how people discover, consume and experience music, jazz is left to decide whether to be part of the revolution or be left behind. We have assembled a vast number of thought leaders to guide, cajole, shape and give inspiration for jazz culture to thrive in the coming years-mapping a strategy to take jazz from an often marginalized genre to a well-known powerhouse.”
The 2013 Jazz Connect Conference will have two full days of panels, workshops and presentations, featuring artists and professionals from all over the globe. Lee Mergner, publisher of JazzTimes and also an organizer of the conference, says that although the industry has changed since the days of the JazzTimes Convention and the IAJE Conference, the importance of bringing people together to discuss issues and best practices remains. “We’ve seen a real seismic change in the jazz industry, with more artists, organizations and companies operating with less resources,” says Mergner. “It’s become a much more DIY genre, and now more than ever, jazz people need to get together face-to-face in order to deal with all the challenges they face-from new models for touring to the effect of changing technologies.”
The Jazz Connect conference, held during the day at the Hilton New York Hotel and Sheraton New York Hotel, will also feed into the nighttime performances of Winter Jazzfest. “It’s important that the jazz community connects with the world at large, whether that be general music listeners or the mainstream media,” explains Mergner. “Winter Jazzfest has become a hotbed for both new and established artists to showcase their performance chops. And it’s attracted new and younger audiences to the music.”
In addition to the two full days of sessions preceding APAP|NYC, Jazz Connect will assist with programming of sessions during APAP|NYC 2013 addressing issues related to the community of arts presenters about how they interact with the jazz genre.
“One of our missions is to be a convener of the various performing arts,” says Mario Garcia Durham, president and CEO of APAP. “APAP|NYC has hosted similar platforms for theater and dance in the past, and we are dedicated to be a support system for jazz, one of the country’s classical art forms and a unique expression of American identity. The 2012 Jazz Connect gathering was a stellar success, and we want to continue to support jazz professionals and practitioners.”
Admission to the Jazz Connect conference is free.
The Jazz Connect conference is organized by a committee of industry professionals, including Marty Ashby, Sara Donnelly, Erika Floreska, Peter Gordon and Lee Mergner.
For more information about the Jazz Connect conference,
call 617-315-9154 or e-mail [email protected].