SWOT Analysis of Jazz in South Australia

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Strengths

  • Small committed sector of experimental jazz musicians.
  • Jazz community is healthy, diverse and not competitive.
  • Jazz organisations are operating successfully on limited budgets.
  • The energy and enthusiasm of (mainly) young players who create new gigs, form small and big bands, find venues, form jazz and new music cooperatives and continue to perform in the absence of much financial reward.
  • The Elder Con Jazz Course whose teachers, many of whom have had national and international experience, do a good job of teaching but also importantly acts as a focal point for the jazz community. Its staff includes most of the best payers in Adelaide and they mentor many of the talented students in the course who represent the future.
  • Organizations such as Jazz SA.
  • Various TAFE music courses which train musicians in preparation for admission to the jazz courses
  • The very good jazz teachers who work from the four special interest music schools and who, through their own largely unrewarded efforts, run jazz music programs for school kids.
  • Thirty big bands run in public schools.
  • A considerable amount of jazz is presented in a variety of festivals (at least eight) each year.
  • The good private school programs in jazz.
  • The several jazz free to air radio programs.
  • Some Pay-TV jazz programs.

Weaknesses

  • Not all schools have jazz programs.
  • Too few venues.
  • Risk averse venue owners.
  • Too few pianos and PAs in venues.
  • Too few working bands (cf pickup bands). There are bands but they are not working.
  • Too little pay for musicians. Many are accepting lower pay.
  • Too few opportunities for performers.
  • Too few instrumental music teachers and classes in public schools.
  • Too few opportunities for audiences to hear live jazz.
  • High venue costs.
  • Too few visiting international artists.
  • Too little jazz in the Adelaide Festival. Resistance from festival directors.
  • Insufficient opportunities for comfortable audience education about the art form to improve the audience experience.
  • Too few jazz performance and recording reviews in local print and other media.
  • Most organisations depend on volunteers.
  • Too little regional touring.
  • No festival devoted to jazz.
  • Too few SA musicians record.
  • Too few Adelaide musicians have a national presence.

Opportunities

  • Urge jazz music teachers in schools to start jazz programs.
  • Create more youth and adult big bands.
  • Create weekend jazz warriors.
  • Need universal instrumental music instruction supported by classroom music instruction both of which start in years R-4 and which are supported as part of the curriculum to the end of secondary school.
  • The work of instrumental music teachers' jazz work in schools needs to be formally recognized as part of their jobs (not quietly accepted by the Education Dept as a bonus for which the teacher should be grateful) and supported in the timetable and with other resources (space, instruments, etc).
  • Create educational series where the mechanics and artistry are explained and demonstrated and encourage schools to run jazz workshop/concerts featuring them.
  • Find funding for salaried full time jazz ensembles (5-6 piece) playing gigs and concerts, recording, touring, appearing on TV and performing their own jazz compositions.
  • A national 24-hour jazz FM radio station
  • Local and national jazz tours by Australian and international jazz players for Musica Viva.
  • Much more funding emphasis on live jazz activity (traded against effort in recording if necessary).
  • Establishment of national and regional jazz touring networks.

Threats

  • Jazz is inaccessible to too many people.
  • Live music is unfamiliar to too many young people. They are more comfortable with DJs.
  • Many jazz musicians leaving the industry in frustration.
  • Poker machines.
  • Sports coverage in the media suffocates jazz coverage.
  • Arts funding has not grown in proportion to funding demands.
  • Too much music is available.
  • Decline in Musicians' Union membership.
  • Too many jazz musicians will play for little or no money. This leads to the perception that all are willing to do so.

Author

Dr Sylvan "Schmoe" Elhay. Submitted 3 September 2008.

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