Image Credits: Francesco bettini © Matteo Mangherini.
Let’s quickly introduce the Jazz Club Ferrara: when was it born, what are their features and who is their audience?
The club “Amici del Jazz” (Friends of Jazz), which eventually became Associazione Culturale Jazz Club Ferrara (Jazz Club Cultural Association of Ferrara), started on April 26, 1977 with the intention of promoting Afro-American musical heritage. Since then, after more than 40 years without any interruption, Ferrara and the surrounding area have been the location of many performances by the most important national and international jazz musicians. Ferrara in Jazz comes in the middle of this story as an event taking place in a very picturesque location, Saint John’s fortified tower (a Renaissance monument inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage List, as well as filming location for the Emilia Romagna Film Commission). The event has just started the 19th edition with the contribution of the Emilia Romagna Region, Ferrara Municipality, Endas Emilia Romagna and the precious support of many private partners.
Jazz Club Ferrara was included in the World’s Best Jazz Venues guide by Downbeat magazine. It was awarded the S.I.A.E. (Italian Copyright Association) tender for the project “S’illumina – Copia private per i giovani, per la cultura” (Let’s light up – the private copy for young people and culture), and it won the 2016 Jazzit Magazine Awards in the “Italian Jazz Clubs” category for the sixth consecutive year.
The audience is extremely varied in age (from 18 to 80 years old), sex (with a slight predominance of men), and origin (40% comes from Ferrara area, about 20% from Emilia Romagna, 20% from Veneto, 10% from the rest of Italy and 10% from the rest of the world).
Which artistic targets did you set for this 2017-2018 edition?
The targets remain the same: quality, variety and cooperation is needed in order to complete an event such as Ferrara in Jazz. We are scheduling six full months of performances by some of the most important artists of the international scene as well as special events dedicated to emerging artists, new products from the record industry and new musical paths and exhibitions. There will be a total of about 80 individual events completely encircling the jazz scene by passing through geographical and genre boundaries.
The schedule develops over six months. How do you think the audience will respond, socially and culturally?
We would like that the different audiences, as far as age, tastes and interests are concerned, could meet and be surprised, without prejudices, by music and musicians they don’t know. The relationship with the city nowadays is very good after many years of work and effort. Saint John’s Tower is no longer seen as a niche or closed environment reserved to a few jazz fans anymore but as a place open to any curious and enthusiastic people.
This inclusion process was, without a doubt, also made easier by the physical space in which we work. Its main historical and architectural features alone are a valid reason to visit our jazz club. By the way, we adopted several strategies for involving the City and the Region, such as our willingness to cooperate with other associations like the Bologna Jazz Festival (in autumn), Crossroads (in springtime), in the city with Ferrara Musica, the Conservatory, the School of Modern Music and many other cultural bodies that are not operating in specifically in the musical field. The crossed communication with all those institutions increased our ability to spread our activities to a larger audience.
As there are many activities scheduled, what can you tell us about public support to the events? Can you tell us something about the Sound Routes project?
We start with a base, at least partially, of volunteer work (I mean that you must expect to earn much less than you would as a professional as far as energy spent is concerned), to which we have to add some financial resources in order to get a good job done. The financial resources are partially covered by public financing (Municipality, Region, national and European tenders corresponding to 30% of the budget), private financing (about 10%), ticket sales, and self-financing by the members of the Club (remaining 60%).
Sound Routes. Notes to Get Closer is a project dedicated to the social and professional integration of migrant and refugee musicians. The project is partially financed by the Valdese Church through the 8% income tax that Italian tax payers can chose to allocate to the church for social projects. In addition, it is also financed by EACEA European Program Creative Europe, Support for Refugee Integration Projects – Call 2016, which has many Italian, Spanish, Belgian and German institutions as partners. Sound Routes wishes to support creative eventualities and the artistic capabilities of migrant and refugee musicians, by the integrating them with European musicians and audiences. The project, coordinated by the Spanish agency Marmaduke, aims at proving that music can overcome language barriers and other differences. The project includes artistic residences, jam sessions, house concerts in Seville, Rome, Berlin and Bologna, with the aim of helping the migrant artists integrate both locally and artistically. The portions coordinated by Bologna Jazz Festival in cooperation with Jazz Club Ferrara are: concerts production, jam sessions and house concerts included in the festival schedule for 2017 and 2018 editions. A final event scheduled for the 2018 Bologna Jazz Festival, will present the original artistic production connected to the project, featuring Paolo Fresu as special guest.
How did you choose the artists?
The unchanged feature of the last editions was to encompass many styles and languages. We tried to cover as many genres as possible of contemporary jazz, therefore our first criterion was the wide range of proposals, with a high quality value as a constant.
What are the difficulties of operating in Italy these days?
They are mainly due to bureaucracy, slowness and to very old regulations on show business that, as far as jazz is concerned, tend to penalize organizers and musicians.
Do you have a special message for fans and one for beginners?
To fans, I ask them to also approach events they may not be particularly enthusiastic about. To beginners, I ask them to come and to let themselves be fascinated by the beauty of the location and of the music. To try to understand the extraordinary ability of representing our present times and to tear down any social and cultural barrier. To try to enrich themselves through diversity.
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