The gatekeepers’ puzzle
Programming diversity and inclusion in a jazz festival
Keywords:Chicago, jazz festivals, festival programming, diversity, inclusion
When programming jazz festivals, programming committees grapple with a host of issues regarding stylistic variety and diversity and inclusion. Questions such as whether there are sufficient minority and female musicians or a good musical balance consume a great deal of time during programming meetings. This article examines these issues in the context of the Chicago Jazz Festival. The festival’s programming committee, on which this author serves, comprises local jazz industry professionals of diverse backgrounds—musicians, journalists, club owners, and directors of jazz institutions, all of whom volunteer their time in meetings with officials from the city’s Department of Cultural Affairs. It is argued that diversity and inclusion is articulated and interpreted by programmers, musicians and festivalgoers at the nexus of local social histories, spatial conditions and cultural formations in a local/translocal dialectic, serving as a forum for the inclusive expression of diverse local community values.
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