EJN Staff Exchange Programme

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Previous participant: Lucy Woolley

From: Jazz North (UK)
To: Vestnorsk Jazzsenter (Norway)
15 - 23 April 2018

I had the opportunity to visit the Vestnorsk JazzCenter in Bergen. I was hosted by Project Manager Audun Humberset, at their office in Sardine. My visit encompassed the following activity

- Monday 16th April -
I arrived at the Sardine building to see the offices where the Vestnorsk JazzCenter are based. This is an arts centre hosted in an ex-Sardine factory in the port at Bergen, where they share offices also with NattJazz and Bergen JazzForum. I spent time with the staff including Nina Torsk and Bjorn Ekeland from NattJazz. Jazz North does not have an office, so it was interesting to hear the staff’s thoughts on the benefits of working in this way and to see the difference in dynamic in this area. I toured the building and met with other artists and organisations based in the arts centre.

- Tuesday 17th April -
I attended the office in the morning to work with Audun on the itinerary for Natalie Sandtorv who would be undertaking a tour supported by the VestNorsk JazzCentre later in the week. I was involved in Natalies technical production rehearsal and prepared travel for later in the week. This allowed me insight into how their projects are delivered and managed. I work on a similar project for Jazz North, so I was able to contribute to the planning, and learnt the differences, including challenges that they face. With this project geography is one of the major challenges, as Norway has large areas of rural communities and there are limited transport options.

- Wednesday 18th April -
I going Natalie Sandtorvs tour and travelled with the band to a performance in Sandane, in the North of Norway. This was a challenging journey which took several hours. Natalie led a workshop with a number of students at the Sandane Arts College and the Head of Music gave me a tour of the facilities. Students who wish to attend the school are supported with free public transport and the school has accommodation facilities for those who have had to travel long distances to attend to facility.
In the evening Natalie performed in the main auditorium, I supported the setup and soundcheck and attended the performance.

- Thursday 19th April -
I travelled back from Sandane on this day and arrived back in Bergen late afternoon. I prepared travel for Saturday and completed some personal work.

- Friday 20th April -
I attended the office and supported JazzForum Bergen to setup for their weekly evening jazz performance. I oversaw the schedule for the arrival and setup of the artists, who needed to be collected from the airport. I attended the evening gig which was very interesting, with a natural percussionist who used stones and twigs as part of his setup, and also a trumpet player who performed under water for a more experimental sound. I also attended the Natalie Sandtorv performance later in the evening, which was in a more student based environment and offered me the opportunity to see a different venue.

- Saturday 21st April -
I travelled to Stord via ferry to attend a children’s concert by a Norwegian band Papagyone. I met the local promoter who has regular weekly performances at his jazz club. The promoter offered insight on his programming and the setup of his club. The band performed local nursery rhymes in different musical styles, targeted at young audiences ages 4-10. They performed for 45 minutes. I also spoke with them about what it is like to work as a musician in Norway and some of the challenges and benefits.
- Sunday 22nd April -
I travelled to Oslo to visit venues in the capital of Norway. I had a tour of the Rockerfella Music Hall and the Oslo Opera House, both major venues in the city. I spoke with some local musicians and touring musicians who were involved in the venues. It was interesting to see the differences between a major city and a smaller rural city such as Bergen. Despite the economic strength of the major city, there was equal levels of opportunity in Bergen which was surprising.

- Monday 23rd April -
I travelled back to Manchester from Oslo. The main learning I have taken from this visit are the geographical challenges of being based in a very large region with difficult public transport - this is similar to the challenges faced by Jazz North. The other major challenge is that most of the musician that the organisation work with are graduates of the local conservatoire. As education in Norway is free, this is viewed as a positive, however in the UK it is a challenger to make sure the projects we undertake are accessible to people from every background.

Overall the trip was informative, engaging and the learning that I have taken away will support my work here in the North of England. I am grateful for the opportunity and thank European Jazz Network for supporting it to happen.