Why we need platforms more than ever.

What a strange time it’s been. I still remember the surreal feeling of our last Jazz Connective meeting in London and Birmingham, when the world was shutting down right in front of our eyes. Three months seem like three years, so much have changed since then.

We are all thinking how the world is going to look like in the future and how it is going to influence our lives. Whether musicians are going to play again for the public, whether they will be able to travel, whether our business is going to survive. The conflicting feelings of the need to get out and resume the normal life and the fear of health consequences have rooted themselves in our minds for good. Musicians are scattered in their homes, often feeling isolated and abandoned. The already existing disparities in different countries resulting from varied social and political policies and financing inequalities are growing. It all makes it even more difficult for artists to get on their feet and resume their careers.

The world is slowly getting back to its tracks. Every country at its own pace, but the shy signs of spring are starting to appear here and there. The world will come around, but not the same. The question is whether we are going to be ready for that. We as promoters, we as the public and we as the musicians. Music business is now at the point of rethinking itself. The consequences of the current crisis will further increase the already high competitiveness and inequalities of the sector. Thus, there is an even bigger need now to introduce competences, awareness and knowledge to the working life of artists. Under the new sanitary regimes, the venues all over Europe are changing their way of functioning, artistic mobility as we know it is being redefined and the public is even more difficult to reach. Most of the artists are now in the limbo with some prospects of carrying on their activity, but still unsure how and when. They are going to face even more challenges and they are more vulnerable to exploitation.

The reason why we have started Intl Jazz Platform 8 years ago was to provide artists from Poland and abroad with inspiring working conditions, unrelated to their formal education and thus free from institutionalization, standardization and hierarchies. We wanted to enable young musicians to develop their improvisational skills putting emphasis on creativity, openness to different understanding of music, respect for diversity and freedom of expression. We have also realized the importance of equipping musicians with the right skills and knowledge to move around the music market.

Now we feel an even bigger need to keep going and provide young artists with an environment in which they can learn from each other, exchange ideas, gain knowledge about the sector, express their concerns and hopes. Where they can feel the sense of belonging and where they can be understood and inspired.

It’s even more important now that they increase their entrepreneurial skills, learn from their peers from different countries, establish international contacts and prepare themselves to face challenges that are awaiting them. It’s time to analyze their previous experiences, revise their approach to music activity and build strategies for their careers. But they cannot do it alone.

For the last 8 years 40 musicians every year have come to Lodz and worked with amazing faculty members who inspired them, played with them and shared their experiences. Sidsel Endresen, Ole Morten Vagan, Maciej Obara, Gard Nilssen, Tom Arthurs, Dominik Wania, John Escreet, Kit Downes, Thomas Stronen, Marius Neset, Jim Black, Ingebrigt Haker Flaten and many more have served as an invaluable source of knowledge for young artists who were often at the beginning of their careers. They have been their musical partners always seeking an individual approach to students, entering the scheme with an open mind and a readiness to constantly redefine their own understanding of music and improvisation.

This summer, against all odds, we are organizing the Platform again. With the venues and borders being re-opened, we do hope we will be able to be there for the young artists in August. With an amazing faculty team (Eirik Hegdal on sax, Susana Santos Silva on trumpet, Aaron Parks on piano, Mats Eilertsen on bass and Jim Black on drums) and with European professionals we will be there to discuss, support, analyze, listen and simply enjoy the music. Creativity, understood as the ability to adapt, integrate and seek one’s own artistic identity, has always been at the heart of what we do. That’s why with our Eureopan partners we are already preparing for the new reality.

It’s gonna be ok. Stay tuned.