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LIVE MUSIC: Grant allows Birmingham Sandwell and Westside Jazz festival to go ahead this Summer!

LIVE MUSIC: Grant allows Birmingham Sandwell and Westside Jazz festival to go ahead this Summer!

Image: Potato head Jazz Band

The Birmingham Sandwell & Westside Jazz Festival will now be able to press ahead with its July 2021 edition after being awarded £25,033 as part of the Government’s £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund.

This funding will enable the Festival to continue programming artists for what will be the 37th edition of this internationally-known event from 16th-25th July this year.

Originally the Birmingham Jazz Festival, the Festival was founded in 1985 and since then has provided 10 days of the best of jazz (over 200 performances) every July. As well as highlighting the talents of fine local and nationally known musicians, the Festival has hosted jazz stars of the magnitude of Miles Davis and the Count Basie Orchestra and been highly successful in discovering young talent from Europe and introducing many bands and musicians to the British public. As a Festival of largely free events in a wide variety of settings, many informal, it has a unique reputation for involving the community.

In 2020, inevitably, the July Festival had to be postponed, to be replaced by a Virtual Jazz Festival on the same dates and a much smaller live Festival (approximately 30 events) on October 16th-25th. The Festival’s sister-company, Big Bear Music, has found income from agency and promotion work practically non-existent, endangering the future of the Festival.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said: “Our record breaking Culture Recovery Fund has already helped thousands of culture and heritage organisations across the country survive the biggest crisis they've ever faced.

Now we’re staying by their side as they prepare to welcome the public back through their doors - helping our cultural gems plan for reopening and thrive in the better times ahead."

Chair Arts Council England Sir Nicholas Serota said: “Investing in a thriving cultural sector at the heart of communities is a vital part of helping the whole country to recover from the pandemic. These grants will help to re-open theatres, concert halls, and museums and will give artists and companies the opportunity to begin making new work.

We are grateful to the Government for this support and for recognising the paramount importance of culture to our sense of belonging and identity as individuals and as a society.”

Founder and Director of the Birmingham Sandwell and Westside Jazz Festival Jim Simpson said:

“This award by the Culture and Recovery Fund is literally a life-saver. With the lack of income owing to the virus it was difficult to be optimistic about the future of a festival that means so much to the community. Thanks to the generous and far-sighted action of the Culture Recovery Fund there will be a Birmingham, Sandwell & Westside Jazz Festival in July 2021.”

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