Women in Jazz project launched to help create 'more female role models in British jazz'


Female musicians must receive more support from an earlier age if the UK is to produce a new generation of successful women in jazz, an industry professional has cautioned.

Speaking ahead of the launch of Women In Jazz – a new three year project aimed at helping young women aged 16-25 pursue careers in jazz – Mary Wakelam Sloan, JazzlinesProgramme Manager at Town Hall & Symphony Hall Birmingham, suggests sharing skills and knowledge with female musicians early on will have a positive impact on the number of women studying jazz in the UK.

“The number of female musicians currently on undergraduate jazz courses at Britain’s leading conservatoires is disproportionately low.” Mary points out. “We also know that there are significantly fewer female musicians, particularly instrumentalists, performing at a professional level than males.”

Mary Wakelam Sloan – credit Chris Swann for THSH

“Becoming an excellent jazz musician is not about gender but about creativity and discipline honed in an environment where mentors inspire and motivate the next generation. This project aims to help make pathways and entry routes more accessible, creating more female role models in British jazz which will ultimately benefit the industry’s ecology for years to come.”

Women in Jazz, funded by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, is free and open to Birmingham-based female musicians at Grade 5 upwards with an interest in jazz.

The project will deliver a series of half-day workshops and sessions focussing on performance, practice, composition and producing, as well as teaching essential career and industry skills including negotiating with promoters, agents and programmers.

Participants will also benefit from the chance to experience high quality performances by acclaimed international jazz groups as part of the Jazzlines programme, as well as the opportunity to take part in guest masterclasses with leading professional musicians including Sara Colman and Esperanza Spalding, who will lead the project’s inaugural session in early April.

Sara Colman

Women in Jazz is the latest addition to Town Hall & Symphony Hall’s growing programme of talent development projects, aimed at discovering, developing and promoting emerging musicians and artists in Birmingham, UK.

Further information on Women in Jazz


Notes to editor:


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.

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 around 800 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.

Funded 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).

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 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.

Esmée Fairbairn Foundation aims to improve the quality of life for people and communities throughout the UK both now and in the future. They 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. They make grants of £30 – £35 million annually towards a wide range of work within the arts, education and learning, the environment and social change. They also operate a £26 million Finance Fund which invests in organisations that aim to deliver both a financial return and a social benefit.

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

Jazzlines is supported by the PRS for Music Foundation

Media enquiries
Fiona Fraser / Lyle Bignon / Abi Barrington
Communications Manager / Assistant Communications Manager / Communications Assistant
E / /
T 0121 644 5008 / 0121 644 6028 / 0121 644 6078 (Direct)

Issue date
Wednesday 20 March 2014