What we do
manchester jazz festival is the UK’s leading showcase for contemporary jazz, with an ongoing focus on championing the region’s creative artists and offering the UK’s only open jazz commissioning scheme for composer-musicians. This means you will see things at mjf that you won’t experience at any other jazz festival.
Year after year, audiences return to enjoy the ten-day celebration of fresh and innovative contemporary music – offering opportunities to discover artists who challenge, surprise and excite.
mjf is a Signature Event in Manchester’s cultural programme, animating the city centre and reinforcing its image as a great place to live and work. Fostering the regional scene and presenting as wide a range of musicians as possible, mjf especially encourages young, female and multi-cultural musicians, and also introduces local audiences to the best established and emerging artists from Europe and beyond, often giving them their first UK showcase.
Our mission is to push jazz forward, to lift the music from its stereotypical image of a smoky, late-night, older male-dominated artform to one which is surprising, vibrant, totally connected to today’s music-making across all contemporary genres, relevant to, available to and enjoyable by all.
How we are funded
mjf is a not-for-profit, registered charity. We receive modest funding from Manchester City Council and Arts Council England and other funders. This enables us to programme a broad, eclectic repertoire not dictated by purely commercial considerations and to keep prices affordable for all, including a number of free events designed to recruit new lovers of the artform for the future. An Economic Impact Study undertaken by Manchester Business School in 2013 reported that mjf generated nearly £7 for every £1 of public subsidy – representing a very sound return on investment.
Despite attracting large, enthusiastic and loyal audiences, jazz remains the Cinderella of arts funding. The number of people attending a jazz event in a typical year stands at around £2.7m, way ahead of opera at £1.7m. Yet funding for opera in 2015-16 was around £59m – compare this against funding for jazz, which was under £4m. Classical music’s audience is larger than jazz at 3.3m, but its subsidy runs at around £17m. Whatever the varied opinions as to why this is the case, the situation is unlikely to change any time soon and our existing public subsidy, though earned and very gratefully received, is also diminishing.
So we must look to ways of extending our networks more deeply in the local community, in order to benefit from the potential of new relationships and from what these might bring to the organisation – culturally and politically, as well as financially.
How you can help
Artist-led by a small team of dedicated, knowledgeable and experienced staff, the annual programme offers an average of 80 events (over 100 in 2017!) featuring over 500 musicians at 12 venues, playing to over 20,000 ticket-buyers and welcoming over 60,000 visitors to the festival hub in the heart of the city centre.