Saturday, August 15, 2020

Jazz folks, where to post Covid-19?

Let us not kid ourselves! Pandemics come and go! At some point COVID-19 will just be a blurb in the history of mankind. Indeed, these are hard times and everyone is affected. Do we then sit back and do nothing? That would be ridiculous.

I have been observing what different businesses are doing to address the current and future COVID-19 challenges. Given the circumstances, the majority seem to be doing extremely well. In particular, I am impressed by how the property industry has gone out of its way to look beyond the current pandemic and how they are tackling each challenge as each restriction is uplifted with every level. They have gone full swing with technology and the results are very impressive. Never before have I ever seen so much activity in the real estate business under similar trying circumstances.

However, this is not the case in the jazz fraternity. There the silence is ‘deafening.’ The recent discussion with jazz folks raised a number of obvious challenges which, by the way, are to be expected, given the current circumstances. My greatest concern is our readiness to handle the ‘new world’ post COVID-19. The engagements on this subject are varied and I like that. I cannot help but what if we do actually reach a point where we have actionable results. 

The general feeling, I get, is that jazz folks seem to be still holding on to the pre-COVID-19 issues and still using the old tools for solutions. Please do not get me wrong. I am in no way downplaying the significance of those issues. But by the same token, lessons learnt from this pandemic clearly point in one direction and that is, self-reliance with a great sense of patriotism. At the start of this pandemic, a certain wise man said, ‘It is like someone pressed the reset button and that has given us a second chance in life!’ Therefore, we have a second shot at our problems; only a little wiser from lessons learnt during lockdown. 

So, what can we do differently? Right at the top of the list is technology. As already stated, while in the area of real estate business there is a clear strategy and path that they follow when it comes to leveraging on technology, it does not seem to be the case in the jazz space. Of course, there are a lot of arguments that people can advance, for example, the cost and availability of internet. Maybe even go further to say that where internet is available, it may not necessarily be accessible. I fully understand and appreciate the argument.

However, while we may not necessarily have the statistics to fully prove the counter argument, the fact of the matter is that there is a noticeable prevalence of jazz folks on internet. This, therefore, suggests that any technological/internet-based strategy can be communicated to a wide audience. While it may be easy to communicate plans and strategies, we need to reach a point where we can develop these strategies and test them to ensure that we are not left behind post COVID-19. 

There is a school of thought that believes that in our attempt to think outside the box, we may need to move with caution and use a ‘rear view mirror’ to plot the best possible strategies. Granted, that makes sense. But we should not be confusing our approach to new situations and solutions with the old ones. If we are not going to graduate from complaining to self-reliance strategies, then we will have not moved at all. We need to go past issues such as supporting each other, to exploring the strength in unity and hopefully explore and exploit opportunities as a single unit.

It is noteworthy to indicate that jazz is no longer about music alone but has seriously ventured into other areas by comparison, say to just a little over 2 decades ago. In particular, its association with other art forms like poetry, visual arts, fashion and many more. I see this as a major benefit in terms of its value chain. Therefore, our strategies should not only be focussed on jazz alone but should essentially be looking at a broader view of what impacts jazz.

As I was writing this article, I was thinking if this is the time the jazz space pulled in the most radical thinkers with an uncompromising attitude? The more I think about it, the more I believe indeed the space does need such people! Maybe introduction of radical thinking is actually long overdue! Don’t you?

So, why did this article make the It Has To Be Jazz® project review? COVID-19, without a shadow of a doubt, was indeed a reset button we needed to introspect. The results and interpretation of a reset may differ from person to person and at the very least, we can be winners if we find a common denominator that will help the jazz fraternity to move forward; maybe even excel. The article is written out of concern for lack of action or clear sense of direction. If there is something major that is being planned, it would be a real pity if it remains in the shelf or benefits only a selected few. Our readiness, post COVID-19, is of paramount importance and cannot be taken lightly.

The It Has To Be Jazz® project team and its group of artists send its love during this trying period. Hang in there and like everything else, COVID-19 shall come to pass. Stay safe and keep healthy.

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