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Situated in The Beecroft Art Gallery, Essex, The Jazz Centre (UK) celebrates the music’s heritage, art and memorabilia and actively supports and promotes contemporary performance and education.
“TO PROMOTE, PRESERVE AND CELEBRATE THE CULTURE OF JAZZ IN ALL ITS FORMS”
The Jazz Centre UK is fully wheelchair accessible. Please see our accessibility page for more information. If you have any questions, please get in touch. Our friendly volunteers are happy to help with any queries.
HOW WE GOT STARTED
Jazz music has existed in some form in the UK since around 1880 but up until now - quite unaccountably - there has never been a national centre to act as the music's flagship in Britain. Only one unsuccessful attempt was made back in 1982 when plans to establish a 'Jazz Centre Society' in London's Covent Garden collapsed four years later. Over thirty years have gone by and in 2015 a proposal to Arts Council England to bring back the idea was greeted by Darren Henley (CEO of Arts Council England) as 'a fantastic project'.
In 1988, our CEO Digby Fairweather founded the National Jazz Archive which holds collections of books, periodicals, posters, photographs and letters. The archive is still flourishing today. In 2015, due to a lack of space, the NJA was unable to expand to take on physical artefacts such as our Humphrey Lyttelton collection - so a hunt for a new space began.
Our project began within our important heritage artefacts, over-stock from the National Jazz Archive and other collections curated by our founders. We created an 'Aladdin's cave' of Jazz Heritage within the small room provided by Southend Borough Council.
It was at this point we realised that there had never been a flagship cultural centre for the art form in the UK - as opposed to the Cecil Sharp House for Folk Music. We took the opportunity to establish a cultural centre for the craft that applies to performance, art, dance, its heritage, sound and more.
We founded The Jazz Centre (UK) in January 2016 with the aim to promote, preserve and celebrate the culture of jazz. With great support from the public, our patrons and funding bodies, we have managed to expand our collections, activities and premises year-on-year. Our premise now extends the entire lower floor of The Beecroft Art Gallery.