allianceThe National Jazz Alliance was created in 2008 to develop a unified voice and strategy for jazz and improvised music (JAIM) in Australia. It is working towards a coordinated approach to developing the sector.


Our aim is to better develop a vibrant, creatively high quality and financially viable sector for Australian music in this genre.

Organisational Goals

Support the continuation of the high artistic standards being practised in this field, primarily by extending audience development and engagement by:

• Raising the profile of jazz and improvised music to:
• Develop and expand sustainable performance and other artistic opportunities
• Build industry capacity through nurturing and supporting operational infrastructure, which supports growth opportunities for artists, organisations, administration and management. This includes developing and exploring new revenue streams
• Creating a vehicle to lead the development of these objectives

A working committee consisting of a consortium of jazz organisations from around Australia, was established to develop this project. Founding members are Jazz WA, Melbourne Co-op, Jazz Queensland, Sydney Improvised Music Association, Jazz SA, Jazzgroove and Wangaratta Festival of Jazz.

The first phase involved research being undertaken with stakeholders and other performing arts organisations primarily in Australia, to inform the development of a national plan.

This research has highlighted that there is a commitment around the country to work on a national basis in an inclusive, open manner for the benefit of the jazz and improvised music community.

This draft was produced and distributed throughout the community for feedback. Information that the plan was available online at was sent to all major jazz organisations in the country, media and interviewees for distribution. The draft was also made available by email.

A forum was held in Brisbane to test the contents of the initial report in May 2009 with representation by musicians, funding bodies, administrators and media from WA, NSW, Queensland, Victoria and Tasmania.

A national plan has now been developed. This plan informs the future of this alliance. A national forum is to be held at Wangaratta in November 2009 to confirm priorities and the way forward to put this plan into action.

Phase one and two have been funded by the Australia Council, who is supportive of the concept of a national unified body for this sector. A funding application has been lodged to carry out the goals of the National Jazz Alliance.


This plan focuses on the jazz and improvised music scene in Australia typified by the music presented by the organisations on the working committee. Accordingly the research undertaken has primarily been focussed with artists, organisations and stakeholders practising in this realm.

The following findings and recommendations arise from issues discussed on interviews, from online communications, national forums and research from existing reports and publications.

Key Findings

1. There is confusion in the wider community regarding the definition and perception jazz.

2. There is a lack of dedicated, publicly accessible venues around the country.

3. Most JAIM related events and or artists place insufficient resources on marketing, publicity and audience development.

4. There are limited career opportunities/succession planning strategies, with the majority of employment available in administration or management being at part time pay for full time roles.

5. This sector is heavily reliant on volunteer hours for essential operational work and runs the usual risks involved with volunteers such as prioritisation of voluntary work against paid work or other commitments.

6. There was general consensus that a unified voice has the most potential to influence positive change in this sector.

7. There is a lack of meaningful communication between organisations around the country.

8. Organisations and ensembles with administration and or management generally tend to be more successful overall than individual musicians or bands in all areas from performance opportunities through to fund raising

9. Investment in business infrastructures will provide the basis for future growth of performance and other artistic opportunities.

10. Organisations and artists that have influential “champions/patrons” are more effective at lobbying and fundraising.

Key Recommendations

1. The establishment of a national body to support and promote JAIM to existing and potential key stakeholders. (See Appendix A for suggestions on organisational structure.)

2. Augment support to State organisations with regard to operating performing arts organisations with sound business skills which position them for increased growth.

3. Review career paths, viability of current administrative and management support and succession strategies across the sector.

4. Learning through communication and information exchanges throughout the country.

5. Explore and develop revenue raising opportunities for organisations and artists.

6. Explore and develop resource sharing and leveraging opportunities.

7. Work with successful existing schemes, or adapt if required rather than duplicating what is already in place.

8. Develop relevant partnerships, and in some cases explore looking outside the jazz sector.

9. Explore the viability of dedicated venues and where possible instigate their creation.

10. Provision of services or assistance with practical skills for artists which could range from PR, marketing, bookkeeping, touring, funding applications etc.

11. Development of existing and establishment of new distribution and performance channels for artists.

12. More actively engaging with champions and patrons for this artform

13. National plan established with achievable short term goals interspersed with longer term strategy.

14. Set up national body to ensure communications on a national basis. Structure is a membership based organisation with an Executive board (decision making), supplemented by working committees and or advisory groups. (See Appendix A for more detail.)

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Photo: Sharpeshots, Flickr

Hash Varsani is the owner of The Jazz Directory, a network of sites related to jazz, travel and everything else he loves. He also runs a selection of jazz related sites including Jazz Club Jury, a jazz club and festival review site. Check out his Google+ Profile, to see what else he's up to...probably setting up another website from one of his many passions.