The 5th EJN Award for Music & Community goes to B:Music in Birmingham



As revealed at the end of the 9th European Jazz Conference 2023 in Marseille, on Saturday 16 September 2023, B:Music in Birmingham (UK) is the recipient of the 5th EJN Award for Music and community, bestowed each year by the Europe Jazz Network (EJN) to an organisation or project for its groundbreaking work on social inclusion.

The annual EJN Award for Music & Community acknowledges organisations that have:
- enriched people’s lives via participation in music; 
- engaged local communities overcoming access barriers of all kinds;
- educated or entertained through musical activities – and have done so for a period of time, as a constant effort to engage with society and its needs.

The Board of Directors of EJN has unanimously selected B:Music to receive the EJN award for Music & Community 2023. Here is the full comment of the Board: “In the face of some sterling competition, B:Music impressed and inspired us with the way in which their Generation Ladywood project clearly and directly sought out and involved young people from Birmingham’s culturally diverse local communities. Reaching and affecting young musicians at risk of exclusion, and from a wide range of backgrounds, abilities and experience, the diverse session leaders also reflected the demographics of those communities well. Generation Ladywood proves how long-term investment in group music-making can have positive and long-lasting effects on the lives of these young urban practitioners, when delivered with such commitment and passion. In addition to this, B:Music is running other projects that have similar aims, such as Progression Pathways or the Peer Mentoring Scheme, and has done an outstanding job in connecting all these different projects together, in order to be able to offer to participants many opportunities for follow-up and for a long-term engagement. We hope these exemplary projects will be equally inspiring for other EJN members in their ongoing work in the field of social inclusion.”

The EJN Board of Directors in 2022/23 was composed by: Wim Wabbes - President (Ha Concerts, Belgium), Sunna Gunnlaugsdóttir - Vice-President (Solfinna, Iceland), Kenneth Killeen (Improvised Music Company, Ireland), Enrico Bettinello (NovaraJazz, Italy), Karolina Juzwa (Intl Jazz Platform/Wytwórnia Foundation, Poland), Minnakaisa Kuivalainen (Tampere Jazz Happening, Finland), Øyvind S. Larsen (Oslo Jazz Festival, Norway), Steve Mead (Manchester Jazz Festival, UK).

Toni Grehan, Community Engagement Manager at B:Music, commented: “We are immensely proud to have won the European Jazz Network Award for best community outreach project. Here at B:Music we strive to develop projects that are in line with our ethos and moto 'To inspire a love of music through performance, participation and learning'. We have been working hard, to make sure our projects have true and meaningful impact for our communities. We have been striving for more diversity amongst our freelance team, in order for us to fully connect and inspire the students we are teaching, as well as introducing our young communities to a range of musical sounds that our freelance team can deliver. We have also been working hard to create a flight path of musical progression between all of our projects. We will continue to grow and further develop our projects, with our young community's personal, social and musical development at the heart of everything we do.  Thanks to all of the team at the Europe Jazz Network for supporting the great work we do here at B:Music. “

Previous recipients of the EJN Award for Music & Community are:
- 2022 - Katowice JazzArt Festival / Miasto Ogrodów (Poland)
- 2020 - JazzDanmark for JazzCamp for Girls and other initiatives (Denmark)
- 2019 - Pasquale Innarella Rustica X Band (Italy)
- 2018 - Banlieues Bleues actions musicales (France)

About B:Music
B:Music has a mission to inspire a love of music through performance, participation and learning. We believe that music is essential to everyone and that it has the power to transform lives, to entertain and uplift, to create shared experiences and to educate.

Our iconic Birmingham venues, Town Hall and Symphony Hall are places where communities come together, new ways of learning are developed and curious minds discover new music. Our talent development work provides pathways for young people to progress their musical education and to potentially develop careers as musicians, while our community projects support local people who experience barriers to engaging with live music performances.

Through our extensive and varied programme, we enrich Birmingham’s music scene by providing paid performance opportunities for local, national and international artists that are accessed by an annual combined audience of over 500,000 individuals.

Photo: Toni Grehan (Left) & Katy Minter (Right) receiving the award in Symphony Hall Birmingham