A Brief History

Europe Jazz Network (EJN) is an association of European producers and presenters who specialise in contemporary jazz and improvised musics.

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EJN was formed in 1987, at a time when the internet and email were in their infancy. From the inspiration that new electronic communication methods could make it possible for promoters to share ideas and collaborate in organising tours and concerts, EJN was created as a network of promoters who connected with one another through the newly emerging medium of the world wide web.

Based in Italy, and prompted by the vision of Filippo Bianchi, long-time Artistic Director of Ravenna Jazz and Reggio Emilia Jazz, in the succeeding years EJN recruited almost 20 members, the majority Italian but with others across Europe, who collected and shared information on musicians and live music promotion. As technology developed it was able to make this information more widely available through its website. In the late 1990's, EJN accessed Kaleidoscope grants from the EU for this farsighted network project.

In 2002, 11 members of EJN joined together in a major artistic collaboration - Europe Jazz Odyssey (EJO). Funded through a Culture 2000 grant from the European Commission - Directorate General for Education and Culture - Culture Unit, EJO enabled the partners to mount a three-year programme of innovative collaborations, residencies and workshops between musicians from throughout the continent, and a series of colloquiums (in Köln, Kongsberg and Budapest) which explored the status of this key area of musical action, especially concentrating on its crucial role within the general cultural and educational contexts of today's Europe.

The colloquia meetings of EJO enabled EJN members to bring many more music promoters from across Europe together to meet and to share and exchange ideas. In consequence, EJN membership grew considerably over this period.

During the early 2000's another smaller network of European jazz promoters - TECMO (Trans European Creative Music Organisers) - had formed, having made contact with one another through a number of meetings organised by the French festivals association AFIJMA. It soon became apparent that EJN and TECMO shared the many of the same aims and ideals. In the autumn of 2004, after the EJN General Assembly in Budapest, the members of TECMO merged with EJN to unify in one pan-European network. At this time, the manifesto of the EJN was written and agreed at the Budapest General Assembly.

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Through its manifesto EJN is committed to establishing a creative dialogue amongst its membership and to encouraging partnerships to flourish between artists and producers on an international basis. In addition, the various members aim to maintain a continuing relationship with the cultural and political establishments in their own countries, as well as in Europe generally.

Although an administrative worker had been employed to co-ordinate the EJO project (using the European Commission funds), EJN had always been run by voluntary officials who were members of its Board of Directors (elected by the membership at the annual General Assembly).

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Voluntary assistance, and in some cases partnership co-funding, were given to EJN by members and their funding partners in various countries in organising the annual EJN General Assemblies and other collaborative meetings. These meetings allowed EJN members to meet, discuss and exchange ideas and consider EJN planning priorities for the future. They also provided a platform for learning about the jazz and cultural scene in the host country – and hearing musicians from the host country in showcase concerts. This partnership approach brought increasing support and collaboration from various members – most notably Norway's Vestnorsk Jazzsenter, and then international interest in hosting the General Assembly – from Istanbul in 2005, Helsinki in 2006 and Brugges/Ghent in 2007. At each of these meetings, the host organisation was also able to invite other music promoters (non-EJN members) and music and culture professionals to meet one another and to hear more about EJN.

In 2006 EJN transferred its legally registered office to Pantin (near Paris) France. Officially registered as a company under French law, EJN made an application in late 2006 to the European Commission's Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency (EC-EACEA) for funds to help it run the network. The EC granted funds for 2007 and therefore the EJN Board was able, for the first time, to employ part-time staff – a Project Manager and an Information Co-ordinator.

An agreement to employ these members of staff was confirmed at the time of the 2007 General Assembly in Brugges/Ghent. A further application to the EC-EACEA, requesting funds for running the planned activity of the network in 2008, 2009 and 2010, was made in late 2007 – and a grant was offered by the EC-EACEA in the spring of 2008.

The plans set out for 2007 included a complete re-design of the EJN website; a growth in EJN membership and in the countries represented; the development of a plan for media communication and advocacy to raise the profile of jazz in Europe; contact and networking with other pan-European and national cultural agencies, especially in the less-represented countries; and a research programme to demonstrate the total size and impact of EJN members' activities.

Alongside this programme of direct activity, the EJN Board has undertaken a programme of restructuring the way the organisation, its new staff and Board operates, to make it more transparent, financially secure and responsive to the needs of a rapidly growing membership and the requirements of longterm partnership and funding from the EC and other partners.

As of September 2008, the membership included 61 organisations (festivals, clubs and concert venues, independent promoters, national organisations) in 20 European countries.

The members' activities include concert, tour and Festival programming and production; commissioning and supporting new music; and a range of educational and audience development initiatives.

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