Big announcement and changes
18 October 2022
We hope that you enjoyed the 2022 Marsden Jazz Festival if you were able to attend. We feel very proud that we managed to deliver such an amazing array of wonderful performances despite our lack of Arts Council England funding this year. This was a great achievement. It’s an achievement that wouldn’t have been possible without the many hours of volunteering contributed, the skilled work of our staff and contractors and, of course, those who bought tickets to the gigs and the generosity of our donor supporters.
After staging the 2022 festival our finances are meagre. It is with great sadness that we share the news that we are now saying goodbye to our staff members Hannah Burgess (Marketing Manager), and Barney Stevenson (Artistic Director). Marsden Jazz Festival thanks them for all of the skill and hard work they have brought to their roles. We have been lucky to have been able to work with them for the time that we have and we wish them every success in their future journeys
Marsden Jazz Festival now returns to its roots as a volunteer-run organisation. The road ahead is unknown and a lot of change is happening very quickly. We will need to decide together, with our friends and supporters, what Marsden Jazz Festival’s next chapter looks like. We have reached a very rare pause point from which we can freely choose our future direction. This is genuinely exciting. These last weeks have been a considerable reminder of the many assets that Marsden Jazz Festival enjoys that are not financial; the strength of our volunteering community and our long history of activity in the village really shine as powerful forces here.
The departure of our long term Artistic Director, and former Chair of Trustees, Barney Stevenson is obviously a huge change for the organisation. Trying to summarise Barney’s contribution to the festival is no easy task; He has been the driving force behind the festival’s successes for many years. Barney’s charismatic and inspired leadership has helped us grow and develop every aspect of our work. We estimate that financially, through income generation and successful grant applications, he has brought around £1.2 million to Marsden Jazz Festival. During his time as Chair of Trustees and Artistic Director we estimate that the local area has benefited from around £4.6 million in incoming festival visitor spend.
Barney spoke to the audience at the end of the 2022 festival. We’ll leave you with his words:
“Thirty years ago the founders of Marsden Jazz Festival spotted a gap in the market for a new festival, celebrating jazz, a music of Black origin, in Marsden, a rural, post-industrial and historically white village high in the Yorkshire Pennines at the top of the Colne Valley.
What a stroke of genius that was.
Over the past three decades, the community of Marsden has coalesced and evolved around the jazz festival.
I have grown to realise that jazz is much more than simply a genre — it is a movement that accepts all-comers and, at its most potent, acts in the social space around the music, the jazz space.
Marsden Jazz Festival doesn’t just affect the physical space of Marsden on festival weekend — it is my sincere hope that it has a lasting impact on the social space of Marsden.
In this respect, I am particularly proud of our continuing work with Black Lives in Music and, this year, to have 50% of our gigs led by women, the stretch target we set ourselves when we signed up to Keychange in 2019.
My own journey as Artistic Director and, prior to that, Chair of Trustees and festival volunteer, has encompassed just over half of Marsden Jazz Festival’s thirty year lifetime. I am privileged to have made hundreds of relationships with incredible artists, partners, trustees, volunteers, and community organisers, each of whom has made deep impressions on me and some of whom have become good friends.
The past three years have included, without doubt, some of the biggest challenges and changes in our three decade history. We’ve had a digital-only festival in 2020, a Covid-safe recovery festival in 2021 and, in 2022, a successful, commercially-footed festival held in partnership with St Bartholomew’s Church in this incredible building. I am proud of how much resilience we have shown and how much change we have managed.
I am also proud of the resilience of the wider community of Marsden, who, determined that the second weekend of October each year should continue to be a celebration of music and art, have put on a huge variety of independent fringe festival events around the Marsden Jazz Festival programme this year.
For myself, I am going to adopt a new perspective. A month ago, I asked the trustees of Marsden Jazz Festival if I could step down as artistic director and we agreed that 2022 would be my last festival.
To say that this decision has been a wrench is something of an understatement! But, now made, definitely feels right.
I am looking forward to climbing other hills and frolicking in pastures new, and most importantly, I look forward to experiencing and supporting Marsden Jazz Festival as a resident of our wonderful village and celebrating this incredible event, secure in the knowledge that Marsden Jazz Festival is in the safe hands of the community that runs it.
So, to our audiences and visitors, to our musicians and production staff, to my festival colleagues, to our donors and funders, to our trustees, partners, volunteers and members, I want to say a heart-felt thank you for making this amazing festival happen in Marsden.
I wish you all the best for the next 30 years of Marsden Jazz Festival.”