An online initiative launched by the Europe Jazz Network in collaboration with magazines, web portals and radio programmes across Europe and beyond, aims to advocate for a fairer and more balanced creative music sector and to highlight the women who fuel the contemporary jazz scene with their creativity, artistic vision and leadership.

EJN Members commit to embracing gender balance in the jazz sector

During their annual General Assembly in Lisbon, Portugal, on September 13th 2018, on the first day of the 5th European Jazz Conference, an overwhelming majority of members of the Europe Jazz Network (EJN) supported the adoption of a new Manifesto on Gender Balance in Jazz and Creative Music.

The Manifesto is one of the outcomes of the “Europe Jazz Balance” activity examining diversity and discrimination in the jazz sector that EJN launched 4 years ago in collaboration with some of its members with financial support from the Creative Europe programme of the European Union. Specifically, the Manifesto is the result of a detailed consultation and discussion process that started with a working group of members at the European Jazz Conference 2017 in Ljubljana and continued throughout the year through virtual meetings and a face-to-face seminar at the Gateshead International Jazz Festival at Sage Gateshead in April 2018.

The Manifesto underlines what EJN members, representing festivals, venues, clubs and national/regional support organisations in 35 countries now pledge to do. Examples include  to “put in place policies and action plans to involve more women as artists, Artistic Directors and producers, staff and Board members and audience members in our work”, and to “ensure that the way we communicate our work through marketing materials, social media, interviews and media releases helps express our commitment to gender balance in the choice of images and language” (EJN Manifesto on Gender Balance).

During the General Assembly 93 EJN member organisations committed to adopt the Manifesto, and in the coming months the remaining members (some of whom were not present) will be asked whether they are also interested in joining the initiative. The first task will be a research process inside the membership regarding their activities over the past three calendar years, in order to establish a baseline for tracking improvement in the balance of men and women in the members’ respective areas of work, festivals, concert series, participatory projects, and within their staff and Boards. An evaluation of the results will serve as a the basis for defining the next steps of the activity.

Jan Ole Otnæs, newly elected President of EJN, has commented about the adoption of the Manifesto: “I am really pleased that such a large majority of EJN members have decided to commit to promoting a better gender balance. Now it is up to the members to put this practice when booking the programme at clubs, venues and festivals and when recruiting staff and members to boards in their organisations”.

The EJN Manifesto represents an important step, together with others such as the Keychange initiative run by the PRS Foundation, as part of an ongoing process by various sectors of the music industry to take some concrete steps to confront the issue of gender balance, with the awareness that a shared effort between creators, presenters and educators is needed in order to change the status quo.

Download here a copy of the adopted EJN Manifesto on Gender Balance (pdf). 

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