Numerous formats, between 60 and 80 concerts a year and even a festival have long been an integral part of Hanover’s cultural life. When he was still studying jazz saxophone in the noughties, Pünter thinks back, a certain type of band did not even take place in the Lower Saxony state capital. Although the location really doesn’t allow you to be better connected for a tour. That has changed: “I know: We are back on the map for jazz culture nationwide.”
The pandemic made grievances visible
Nevertheless, a lot of things in the industry are not going well, the JMI managing director points out. The grievances have suddenly become particularly visible as a result of the pandemic. Political lobbying is therefore one of the main tasks of the musicians’ initiative. Because there is still little understanding of the living conditions of the many protagonists in the industry. “Politicians simply did not understand the professional profile of a musician,” says Pünter. He has little understanding for statements that one should have made money in the digital space during the lockdown.
Cultural content was streamed en masse on the Internet without any form of consideration. Bridging loss of income through CD sales is also utopian. They would only be sold at concerts, if at all, and could not die for reasons that would not take place. Even if lost wages are earned, there is little understanding that freelance musicians usually have a mix of sources of income because, for example, they still give lessons. Many have therefore slipped through the state aid offers.
Little support in the last year and a half
“I am already wondering why that is. Is there simply no interest?”, Says Pünter. He is obviously disappointed at how little support there has been for many of his colleagues over the past year and a half. In doing so, she would have received a de facto professional ban and got into an emergency through no fault of her own.
This is one of the reasons why the JMI made sure that freelance jazz musicians could get financial help if money ran out. Amounts between 200 and 400 euros were paid out as required with little effort. Overall, the joint campaign with the “Tonhalle Hannover” raised over 40,000 euros in donations. Also a sign of how closely the city’s cultural scene was sticking together during the crisis.
Jazz week at the beginning of October a bright spot for the scene
But the crisis is far from over, continues Pünter. There can be no talk of a restart for a long time. So he see them for Jazz week planned for the beginning of October as a ray of hope for the scene, motivated by the prospect of a proper festival appearance with appropriate honors. Nevertheless, there are uncertainties as to whether everything can even take place as planned.
The organizers would largely be left with the responsibility in this regard. In addition to numerous concerts, there is also work on the content on the program. The JMI wants to aggressively tackle and discuss the problems of the scene in the city and thus also bring musicians together in the discussion.
Workshops and discussion rounds planned
Among other things, a conference on the question “Do you do this for a living?” Is planned. The slightly sarcastic title conceals workshops and discussion groups in which, for example, the rehearsal room situation in Hanover is to be discussed. The situation of freelance musicians will be the focus. It’s about building a music community in the city and discussing the work opportunities in the co-working space for “Die Rampe”.
In the long term, Pünter hoped to be able to make a difference for the city scene. While he currently does not feel heard or understood and would attribute Lower Saxony in terms of cultural funding, he hopes for more support in the future. For example, he would like an association office at state level that could serve as a point of contact for the independent scene. He also supports the demand that freelance musicians receive fixed monthly support as long as the pandemic prevents normal work.
If you want a city with an attractive cultural life, you have to do something for it. Therefore, the JMI will now be tackling a lot of problems offensively. Job Complete? Not for a long time. The Hanover Jazz Musicians Initiative probably has more to do than ever before.