Hello everyone, it is with a heavy heart that I must announce the closure of Jazz Ireland.
Jazz Ireland was a project I created with the primary focus of supporting the Irish jazz scene and helping it grow. For seven years, I worked tirelessly on the project without any funding, determined to make a difference. I am proud of what I accomplished, I got to work with some incredible people whom are now lifelong friends and I’m grateful for the opportunities it provided.
But unfortunately, that time has come to an end.
Getting funded was always the goal, but as a disabled person I can’t get funding without severe penalties. When I started this project, I didn’t know how bad the situation was. I have tried for years to change the rules, to make it easier for people like me to access the arts, but to no avail. Despite my efforts to speak with government officials, arts organisations, disability organisations and advocate for change, nothing has been done to rectify this situation. And it looks like nothing will.
Sadly, I don’t feel respected or valued as a result of that experience over the last few years and after much thought and consideration I came to the difficult decision to close everything down. It's a bittersweet decision, as I am proud of what I have accomplished, but deeply saddened by the lack of will or progress in making things fair for disabled people.
I must admit that very few people knew that I have a disability. I never told people because I felt that I wouldn't be given the chance to do many of the things I have done. I faced challenges that many non-disabled people don't understand. But in my own time and in my own way I got to achieve a lot. It's a shame that society often stigmatises and discriminates against disabled people, making it difficult for them to pursue their passions and achieve their goals. Access to funding and opportunity should not be a limitation.
Jazz Ireland was the only dedicated national listings website for Irish jazz. After 5000 events promoted in 500+ venues across Ireland, 97 podcast episodes, just under 3000 subscribers, thousands of social media followers, 139,000 website visitors from 5 continents and 40+ different countries, I can safely say it was a success. The rules and regulations surrounding funding for disabled individuals are punitive and often result in the loss of necessary supports. It's unjust that disabled people are punished for doing well.
I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has supported Jazz Ireland over the years, your support has meant the world to me. In particular I would like to thank Donald Helme for always being there with advice and guidance, for giving Jazz Ireland an incredible gift of The Hot Box Podcast in the early days and lending his integrity to the entire project. Now it is with deep sadness that I must say goodbye.
But this is not the end. I remain committed to the cause of providing equal access to the arts for all individuals, regardless of their abilities or disabilities. I will continue to fight for change, to make it easier for disabled individuals to participate in the arts. I hope that someday soon, everyone will have the opportunity to express themselves creatively, regardless of their circumstances.
When the rules change, I may revive Jazz Ireland but until that time comes it will remain offline.
The only organisation speaking up for people like me about these issues is DADA Campaign, so please give them your support.
Thank you for supporting Jazz Ireland and my efforts to make a positive impact on the Irish jazz scene.
Founder of Jazz Ireland.