NEEDS COMMITTED ONGOING HELP
any time of year things are difficult for Jazz, so even if you didn’t make it
to each event yourself we really do appreciate it if you had encouraged friends and colleagues
to come along. Did you ever download a Poster to put out in your work
place and did you direct people to
this very extensive web site. Remember that we have worked only for the Jazz Musicians to
give them a platform for their talents. We are a not for profit organisation.
As a mere enthusiast one man cannot bear the burden of organisation.
Approximately 120 hours of planning goes into each concert -
We need a new
Management Structure if Concert Jazz is to continue - what part will you
We need the following
active components survive -
Corporate or Individual
Sponsorship - for Bands, Posters or Venue
Paid Membership per season
or Club Status with expenses underwritten by collective membership
More active members to
take specific roles
Ticket Sales and Box
Secretary - with a view to
setting up Charity status
Club Set-up on the day and
Breakdown post Concert
Webmaster for updating
Its no good patting Jazz
Eddie on the back and saying keep up the good work - he has done enough over
30 months and he wants his life back. His appeals for committed
assistance are conveniently ignored.
KEEP FLEECE JAZZ GOING - another (successful) club in
WE NEED BIGGER AUDIENCES IF WE ARE TO CONTINUE.
THIS MEANS WE NEED YOUR HELP
come along yourself,
bring (or send) your friends
forward emails to anyone you think might be
It would be tragic, having just won the 2009 award
for best Jazz Club at the Parliamentary Jazz Awards, if we were
unable to continue because of insufficient support.
We know the recession makes things tough for everyone and
we have made strenuous efforts to reduce our costs, but Fleece Jazz receives
no outside funding or subsidies.
We are non- profit-making and none of the committee receives payment.
All revenues are used to book the best musicians we can
afford, maintain the best sound system we can manage and advertise our
The venue is excellent.
The sound is better than we had dared hope and much better than at
Kersey. Bar and food prices are
comparable, the quality is consistently extremely good and there is a choice
of bars and food options. There
is ample parking on hard standing and there are plenty of toilets.
The staff are
very attentive, seating is comfortable and we ALWAYS play with the audience
round the band as we used to at the original Fleece.
Firstly, I would like to express our gratitude for your efforts. We have
only come along to 2 shows since we move to Thame in 2006 but they were both
excellent. It seems to me that we’re very lucky to be able to see such
musicians here and with you having done all the ground-work and built up a
regular clientele, it would be a tragedy to let it all slip away. So…
I am in the position of having more spare money to spare than time! I work
long hours and have two young kids. So I don’t feel able to take on any of
the organisation. I suspect from the look of the audience that there are
others in the opposite position!
I would happily pay an annual
subscription of say 12x£6 = £72 with the expectation that I would be able to
attend every event (about 12 I guess??) but if I missed any, I wouldn’t get
any money back. If you went this way, I guess you’d have to decide if
subscription were to become compulsory or if you would allow some people to
still come ad hoc for £12 a throw.
I would also happily
sponsor a single show to make up the deficit. I wouldn’t want to get
anything out of it at all. I guess the main thing is that one would need to
find a way of encouraging others to do the same, so maybe there should be
some acknowledgement of sponsors so that non-sponsors sit uncomfortably in
their seats! I would happily give £100 for an upcoming show. Perhaps there
could be more than one sponsor per show.
I would also pay £10 per show
but I’m sure you’ve considered how this might hit attendance.
Overall, my offers above are modest and I would give more, so I wouldn’t be
offended if you came back saying the numbers needed to be higher. I guess
I’d like to know that others are also coming forward before going further.
I’m sure there are plenty of people who could help but as ever in these
cases, most people are happy to rely on the committed few to do all the
work. So if you wanted to refer to my ideas above and ask others to match
the money, I’d be fine with that. I guess if you could get 30 people
offering £100 sponsorship per year (plus some organisational help), that
would make a difference?? Or would it? I’m not really sure what the
economics are of running the whole shebang.
Anyway, I hope you’re getting lots of replies. I look forward to hearing how
it’s going ….. and to the next gig! Thanks again Eddie.
Good stuff Francis - if
only everyone would just commit we wouldn't need to introduce such measures
but they are a real inducement to getting your money's worth and ensuring an
audience for the artists performance on the night.
Band Sponsorship is another ploy and matching ticket value for your friends
to see your choice of band - or joint/recommended choice if you are
uncertain about which musos.
Just to say thanks for another fabulous night, we all thoroughly enjoyed it.
I have been thinking if there is any practical way that I can help support
you in any future gigs you might be persuaded to put on, although I can
understand it if you want to call it a day.
Would it be of any help if I was to offer to underwrite say 20 tickets per
gig for the next 3 events i.e. guarantee to get 20 bodies from Wingrave
area to Thame or alternatively pay £200 less any bodies paid for?
This would probably involve circularising some of our client base and also
leaning on people much more heavily than I have done before! Let me
know if this would be any help. I suggested to Steve Kershaw that the
blues number should be called "Eddie's Blues" in recognition of all the
effort you had put into bringing world class jazz to Thame and the pathetic
lack of response. Yours aye,
Jules - a stalwart and
distant recruiter already and often represents 20% of the audience at times
- if only the core listeners worked as hard as Jules to ensure a car full
for a regular musically entertaining reward. We are only 15 to 20
bodies short for each event to be a financial success as well as a musical
triumph. Why come alone - bring a car full of like minded people.
Re your plea for help I’m afraid I can’t
offer time but can offer some views and commitments. I think creating a
membership based club is a sound idea. I have only been to two events but
would be happy to subscribe up front to a membership scheme if that helps to
keep it going. You could potentially create two different tiers for
regular and infrequent members. This might catch you some money up
front from people who will attend the odd event but don’t plan to be there
every year – they may also get more hooked in and end up paying on the door
for additional nights. I’m not a jazz aficionado but do think you’ve
got some great quality musicians based on the nights I have attended and
feel it would be a shame if it was all to stop. I’m happy to put
subscriptions in up front and would persuade others to do the same but I do
agree that you need time commitment from others to make it a reality. Sorry
I can’t support this bit personally. I look forward to hearing what
others have said!
Andy to show his concern having only attended two events and with Jazz not
his real groove. He concurs with Francis and is prepared to commit
precious resources up front but the 2 tier level for low attendance members
may prove difficult to police at the box Office. Perhaps a round robin
stating that we are now members only will decide the whole issue and if
there are not sufficient willing to commit to that or additional
organisational help - then we are dead in the water. How
sad to lose our 2-1/2 years of status and clientel.
and Ian Beach went out of their way to add marketing expertise to our
predicament and wish to be active in salvaging what there can be from our
circumstances and their notes and suggestions also make interesting reading -
Discussion on Concert Jazz - 31/1/08
Ian Beach and Bob Nicholls met with Eddie Fowler to learn more about Concert
Jazz and to explore how it might be sustained. Eddie explained he had had a life
long interest in music and especially Jazz and had founded Concert Jazz some two
and a half years ago to bring live Jazz of a good standard to the Thame area. He
was keen to promote less well known but talented musicians by giving them the
opportunity to perform. In addition to putting on concerts, Eddie acted as a
promoter/agent for some musicians (including some from overseas) and had
developed an extensive and informative jazz web site which was receiving world
wide hits. He indicated that while unable to sustain these activities at a
financial loss he was not in it to make money but to put something back into the
music he loved. Eddie outlined his main problems in keeping Concert Jazz
going and certain solutions were discussed as follows:
From the original peaks of over 100 for some concerts audience numbers have
gradually declined to under 50 when the "break even" position is
around 75. Without an adequate audience the jazz promotions are not
financially viable and cannot continue. Hence the top priority for action
is to reverse the decline in attendance. Blanket advertising, even if
achievable, is potentially wasteful of effort and expense. Better, is to find
ways to target those with a known interest in jazz who are more likely to
respond positively. The most direct and potentially effective way to do so is
through Email linked to web advertising. Mail shots are also possible, but
require more effort and expense.
Eddie has already done a very great deal to amass a database which is used to
communicate with fans, so much of the essential groundwork has already been
completed. The challenge now is to ensure that the messages that are conveyed
are in a form that results in the desired increase in attendance. Emails about
jazz functions have to compete with Email marketing messages from numerous other
sources. Email marketing is now a sophisticated process and to compete
successfully against others requires an equally well developed approach.
Ensuring Email impact and response is thus a priority for action.
As Eddie has explained, getting people to help is itself difficult. But ideally
an expert in email/web marketing might be identified to advise on a voluntary
basis. (More thought needs to be given on the way to achieve this.) The
expertise required is specifically in Email and web marketing not in
information technology, though this is a related expertise. Pending this, Ian
undertook to identify some web sites which offer useful ideas on internet
marketing which he would send on to Eddie. Subject to his availability he may
also be able to offer other direct advice.
Reducing the workload
Eddie works alone in finding and hiring artists and venues, in marketing and
in making all the arrangements on the night, which takes at least 120 hours per
event. This has to be reduced if the concerts are to continue. There are at
least two ways to achieve this.
Prioritise the existing tasks
Until more ‘hands
on’ assistance can be found, Eddie could possibly leave aside some of the
activities he currently undertakes and concentrate on the core challenge of
raising audience numbers. No deep discussion of the practicality of this took
place, but an example would be to put aside web site development in favour of
Email marketing for events. Satisfying the curiosity of overseas website
readers is low priority against increasing local attendance at concerts.
Only Eddie is
able to assess the practicality and value of this idea, but it is worth
consideration as a short term measure.
Clarify what can be delegated to others and renew the search for assistance.
There is need for
Eddie to identify specific tasks which could be undertaken
by others to ease the burden on himself (and to get more people involved in
and committed to the enterprise).
Though Eddie has often appealed for assistance it could help to
recruit volunteers if he could identify more precisely those tasks that he would
like to delegate to others. These should include some on-going roles and tasks,
some jobs in the lead up to specific events and some on the night. Eddie could
then concentrate on his core purpose (e.g. finding and engaging the
When a list of tasks is available, volunteers can be sought by
advertising on the web/emails, but especially by approaching people at events
and by other personal contact. Eddie is a very persuasive enthusiast and it
seems likely that he would attract most assistance through face to face
discussion rather than by more impersonal appeals by Email. Also, personally
delivered invitations to be part of a success are likely to succeed better than
impersonal appeals to avert disaster. This search for support also links to
section 3. below.
Financial support from local and national organisations
has done a lot to generate local interest and support, but still more is needed
as this is a never ending process. Continuing personal contact with local groups
and individuals (e.g U3A groups, the Players Theatre organisation, music
teachers at local schools, golf clubs, pub and restaurant owners/managers etc)
will all help promote interest in Concert Jazz and market particular events.
Eddie as enthusiast and communicator is key to this process, which underpins the
marketing efforts referred to at 1 above. It could also assist with finding the
much needed helpers.
Some indicated they would be willing to help with this and to try to bring a group
to a future event. Given time, it may be possible to develop what might be
called a ‘Band Leader’ scheme, meaning a few individuals who take it on
themselves to bring a small ‘band’ (of listeners) to each concert.
4.1 Membership scheme
has previously considered the introduction of a membership scheme but has not
progressed the idea. Further consideration could be given to this as an adjunct
of an updated website and Email marketing campaign. It might have the advantage
of providing a small income and also be a source of support and a supply of
helpers to spread the load.
very familiar with and knowledgeable about the jazz ‘scene’ in and around
Oxfordshire. However, there could be value in undertaking a more formal market
research exercise to establish with greater clarity the extent of demand for
concerts against the level of current provision. The timing of any survey seems
heavily dependent on the availability of an expert volunteer, a sponsor or grant
funding, but it remains a potentially useful tool in the medium to longer term.
Shorter term, a simpler approach is merely to talk to audience members and
listen carefully to their suggestions. Alternatively, a simple questionnaire
might be given to audiences to enquire about their preferences on music, venue
or other telling issues.
Given the effort to establish reputable jazz concerts, you need to
consider whether or not continue efforts to keep Concert
Jazz going in the future. If we are prepared to do so, then in addition to the
points above, the following which also emerged in discussion, appear important:
Continuity with the past
program of events needs to be maintained or the core of local interest
will evaporate rapidly.
A target for the next concert would leave some time available to revise and
rack up the impact of the Email marketing program.
Ideally, a program of future
concerts should be published (say four) to help the sense of continuity and
the marketing approach.
A regular venue should be
retained, again to generate a sense of continuity and certainty. (It is also
Eddie needs to clarify his
control over the events to eliminate ‘unprofessional’ interventions by
inexperienced helpers. (e.g. photographers/announcers - we might be able to
assist with the latter.)
Send us your
Are Highly Social Jazz
we do bring exciting performances of Instrumental Jazz as
rendered by the finest of young Internationally renowned Musicians.
They do have a major impact on
the established World Jazz Scene and also support major Performers in the music
It is no mean feat to secure these hard working, inventive and prolific
performers. Where is your support to improve the Artistic Quality
of Music in Oxfordshire
for Live Concert Jazz!
increase the Gig frequency
can you raise our attendance numbers
- do you tell all your music loving friends.
"It's my kind of place. I can look round at the
audience, and see this group of people I wouldn't have come across
at any other venue. Open-minded, ethnically mixed, age-mixed, great
sense of humour - a quintessentially eccentric English audience."
Support your local Jazz Venue, wherever it is.
Concert Jazz was a thriving example - despite having been pretty
firmly sidestepped by the public funding bodies throughout its life
- but there are many more, all over the UK. They're where some of
the most exotic blooms of new music are grown, surrounded by those
who tend them, understand them, and cheer for them. This is where
you hear tomorrow's music news today!
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Corporate Sponsors Required
To improve the quality of Performances at our
monthly gigs, or to maintain ongoing International Jazz Performers
participation, we would welcome all degrees of Sponsorship from any Local or
National Company that feels that Contemporary Jazz of this quality would assist
in the promotion of their Corporate image in the Oxfordshire Area and beyond. In
return you invest in something pleasurable of your choice and enjoy Corporation
Tax Relief for supporting the Performing Arts