Major investment in Birmingham Music Announced


Birmingham today takes a step closer to securing its status as a major force in UK jazz music with the announcement that leading music organisation Town Hall and Symphony Hall (THSH) is to significantly broaden the number of opportunities for young jazz musicians in the city.

Two grants totalling £175,000 from the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and The Leverhulme Trust spread over three years will enable THSH – specifically through its Jazzlines and Education & Community teams – to increase its capacity to discover, develop and help promote young jazz artists via a range of projects and initiatives.

Professional development workshops, bespoke masterclasses with leading international artists, summer schools, and performance opportunities at music venues and festivals across the city will ensure guidance, tuition and encouragement for young musicians– from their first access to jazz as children through to the early stages of their career as young adults.

The announcement marks a further commitment by THSH to invest in a new generation of jazz creatives in Birmingham; one of Europe’s youngest cities and regarded as a nerve centre for music in the UK. The music organisation – a registered charity and one of the UK’s biggest jazz promoters, commissioners, and educators – will use the skills and knowledge of its team of experienced industry professionals and an extended network of specialist partners to build on a successful history of planning and managing projects in this area.

“The generous support of the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and The Leverhulme Trust, coupled with the existing backing of the Jerwood Charitable Foundation and BBC Performing Arts Fund, will empower us further to discover, develop and help promote the next generation of jazz creatives in Birmingham. This is a major step forward in securing the city’s place on the UK’s music map – we’re thrilled to be leading the way.”

– Mary Wakelam Sloan, Jazzlines Programme Manager

Reuben James, a 20 year old Birmingham musician described as ‘fast becoming Britain’s best young jazz pianist’ by The Times is a perfect example of the city’s new generation of jazz artists making waves at home and beyond, and is part of Birmingham’s New Beat Generation campaign. Following regular mentoring from the Jazzlines team with support from the late Abram Wilson, Reuben is now playing with Ruby Turner, UK pop artist Sam Smith and a number of ensembles that regularly perform at Ronnie Scotts. Last year, with the Jazzlines Trio, he supported Wayne Shorter at Town Hall Birmingham and made his Cheltenham Jazz Festival debut with the Reuben James Trio.

“It’s fantastic to be involved with Jazzlines – they have supported me for years and are a real force in Birmingham delivering youth jazz projects. They have given me the opportunity to showcase my music and develop as an artist as well as an educator. I can’t wait for our future projects together.”– Reuben James

Birmingham has a strong and varied jazz music heritage, which takes in Town Hall’s position as a major jazz venue during the 1950s and 1960s and the success of musicians such as Andy Hamilton MBE, Tony Levin and Dave Holland, right up to current day contemporary creative artists and ventures such as Soweto Kinch, Shabaka Hutchings, Blam! Birmingham, The Yardbird, Harmonic Festival and the Mostly Jazz, Funk and Soul Festival.


Notes to editor

Links #jazzlines

Details of funding

Jazzlines Summer School: Some funding from the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and funding from The Leverhulme Trust will be allocated to our Jazzlines Summer School. Piloted in 2012 as a way to further develop the skills of young people identified through our Education & Community work (including Jazz Electives), we will offer an annual three tier jazz summer school for musicians aged 10-19. Jazzlines Summer School will enable participants to work with professional musicians to develop their skills in jazz techniques, ensemble playing, jazz harmony, composition and arranging, jazz repertoire, and performance. We are working with lead artists Sara Colman, an accomplished jazz singer-songwriter, and Percy Pursglove, our Jazzlines Fellow. We will work with Sara and Percy to recruit a support team of local jazz education professionals to work alongside them. In addition the project will be supported by the Jazzlines Trio. The young people will showcase their skills each year by performing together to a public audience in the foyer spaces at Symphony Hall.

Jazzlines Ensemble: Some funding from the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and funding from The Leverhulme Trust will be allocated to the Jazzlines Ensemble for young musicians graduating from the Summer School. Following the pilot Jazzlines Summer School in 2012, a pilot Jazzlines Ensemble was established for children and young people to develop their skills further. The Ensemble is now rehearsing on a regular basis in the foyer of Symphony Hall and these sessions are led by Sara Colman and Percy Pursglove. So far, the Ensemble has performed at the OxjamBrum Takeover Festival 2012, performed as part of our popular Jazzlines Free Gigs programme in the foyer of Symphony Hall on Friday 17 May 2013, and will also perform on the Jazzlines stage at Mostly Jazz, Funk & Soul Festival on Sunday 7 July 2013. Funding from The Leverhulme Trust and the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation will enable us to continue developing the Ensemble for the next three years.

Women in Jazz: Funding from the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation will support Women in Jazz. Women are often under-represented in jazz so this project aims to bring inspiring role models together with aspiring young female musicians. Each year Jazzlines will offer the opportunity for 10 of the most talented young female musicians aged 16-25 from Birmingham to work alongside leading professional female jazz musicians participating in the Jazzlines programme, such as Maria Schneider, Esperanza Spalding, Becca Stevens, Sara Colman, and Nikki Iles through a series of bi-monthly half day master classes that will focus on building confidence and raising career aspirations. We aim to emulate the success of the Jazzlines Trio (below)and Ensemble by providing a platform for the musicians to perform, for example as part of the Jazzlines Free Gigs series or in Jazzlines’ partner venues in the city.

Jazzlines Trio: Funding from the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation will support the professional development of the Jazzlines Trio. With ongoing mentoring support from Jazzlines, James Banner, Ric Yarborough, and Reuben James have become a gigging ensemble and regularly provide mentoring support for our Education & Community projects. Continuing their music education at degree level, they have become rising stars of the British jazz scene. With this support we will offer the Trio a programme of master classes each year with musicians participating in the Jazzlines programme, to enable the Trio to develop their composition and performance skills, which they will then in turn, be able to pass on to the young musicians they support as mentors in the Summer School and Ensemble.

Funding from the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation will also support the salary of a full-time Jazzlines Education Project Manager for three years, who will develop the programme above with the support of Jazzlines, the THSH Education & Community team, and the wider THSH team. The Jazzlines Education Project Manager will also support the Jazzlines Fellows where appropriate.

Town Hall and Symphony Hall are managed together by Performances Birmingham Limited, a Registered Charity No 1053937. Between them, the two halls present an exciting and varied programme of over 600 concerts and events a year, connecting people of all ages and backgrounds to music from jazz, folk, world, roots and classical, to rock and pop. Over 500,000 people visit Town Hall and Symphony Hall annually, and almost 12,000 young people and 6,000 adults participate in the thriving Education and Community programme.

Supported by Birmingham City Council
Supported using public funding by Arts Council England

Town Hall Birmingham re-opened in October 2007 following a £35m renovation funded by Birmingham City Council (£18.3m), Heritage Lottery Fund (£13.7m), European Regional Development Fund (£3m).

Esmée Fairbairn Foundation aims to improve the quality of life for people and communities throughout the UK both now and in the future. We do this by funding the charitable work of organisations with the ideas and ability to achieve positive change.

The Foundation is one of the largest independent grant-makers in the UK. We make grants of £30 – £35 million annually towards a wide range of work within the arts, education and learning, the environment and social change. We also operate a £21 million Finance Fund which invests in organisations that aim to deliver both a financial return and a social benefit.

The Leverhulme Trust was established in 1925 under the Will of the first Viscount Leverhulme. It is one of the largest all-subject providers of research funding in the UK, distributing funds of some £60 million every year. For further information about the schemes that the Leverhulme Trust funds visit

The Jazzlines Fellowship scheme is supported by Jerwood Charitable Foundation. Three Jazzlines Fellowships are offered to talented musicians, aged 18-35, nominated by industry professionals based on their skills, commitment and potential to develop. The Fellowships began in March 2013 and the programme will run for one year. The Fellows are Lluis Mather, Dan Nicholls and Percy Pursglove.

The Jerwood Charitable Foundation is dedicated to imaginative and responsible revenue funding of the arts, supporting artists to develop and grow at important stages in their careers. It works with artists across art forms, from dance and theatre to literature, music and the visual arts.

Jonathan Silk is supported by the BBC Performing Arts Fund Music fellowship scheme.

Jazzlines is Town Hall & Symphony Hall’s dynamic strand of concert programming and inspirational education work from jazz producers Tony Dudley-Evans and Mary Wakelam Sloan, connecting people to jazz music. Launched in April 2012, Jazzlines is supported by a three-year funding grant from Arts Council England under the National Portfolio Organisation scheme. The programme encompasses live jazz performances at a wide variety of venues around the city, including Town Hall & Symphony Hall, and an innovative participation and learning programme.

Jazzlines is supported by the PRS for Music Foundation

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Issue date
Wednesday 3 July 2013