Jazz festival handed lifeline

The Birmingham Sandwell and Westside Jazz Festival has been awarded £50,040 as part of the Government’s £1.57bn Culture Recovery Fund (CRF).

It is one of 588 cultural and creative organisations across the country receiving support.

Originally the Birmingham Jazz Festival, the festival was founded in 1985 and since then has provided 10 days of jazz every July.

In 2020, inevitably, the July Festival had to be cancelled, 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 much reduced, endangering the future of the festival.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said: “This is more vital funding to protect cultural gems across the country, save jobs and prepare the arts to fight back. Through Arts Council England we are delivering the biggest ever investment in the arts in record time. Hundreds of millions of pounds are already making their way to thousands of organisations.

“These awards build on our commitment to be here for culture in every part of the country.”

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 and Westside Jazz Festival in July 2021.”

The 36th edition of the festival is currently in progress.

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