“Vision for the Future of MJF”
Seeking candidates for the positions of Director and Artistic Director, MJF 2021
Following the well-received virtual presentation of Merrickville’s Jazz Fest (MJF) in celebration of the festival’s 10th Anniversary in 2020, the time has come to determine plans for the future. The COVID-19 pandemic made the presentation of a live festival impossible last year so the organizers changed plans a couple of months before the festival dates and put together an online event instead. If a festival is planned for 2021, the continuing uncertainty regarding how and when live music will return suggests that it would be a virtual festival as well.
The current Director and Artistic Director, having honoured their commitment to produce the 10th Anniversary edition in 2020 (and following numerous years of volunteer service to MJF), are stepping aside. If there is to be an edition of MJF in 2021, these positions will need to be filled to take over the management and programming of the festival and additional volunteers may need to be recruited to work on other aspects of festival production.
The aim of MJF has always been to provide high quality jazz performances and educational programming for the residents of Merrickville as well as to visitors who come for the festival. MJF events include a mix of emerging, established and well-known artists from the region and beyond. The people of Merrickville and outside attendees have enthusiastically supported MJF over the years. Many Merrickville residents have taken great pride in presenting the annual festival as volunteers, business supporters, sponsors and more. MJF has steadily increased attendance each year and has become an important jazz performance opportunity in the region. After ten years of operation – nine live festivals and one online presentation – MJF has grown to be a well-regarded and well-attended fall event taking place every year in the week following Thanksgiving.
Despite the challenges last year, MJF 2020 Virtual Edition managed to live up to the core mandate while pivoting to a virtual style of concert and masterclass presentation. The change to a virtual presentation allowed for people to attend from many more locations in Canada, the U.S. and Europe from the comfort of their own homes.
Merrickville’s Jazz Fest (MJF) is looking for two energetic, motivated and personable individuals to take on the positions of Director and Artistic Director for the 2021 season. Below are general descriptions of the roles and duties of that have been updated to also reflect the activities required to produce an online event. Creative new platforms for presenting music online are becoming available and may be a different, more cost-effective and less labour-intensive way to produce MJF. Since its inception, the festival has been entirely volunteer-run and the positions of Director and Artistic Director have also been filled by volunteers. This may need to be reconsidered for 2021. How the festival is produced and presented may change depending on modifications that a new Director and Artistic Director might choose to put into place. The bulk of the work organizing the festival has traditionally taken place from the end of January through to the presentation of the festival which runs from Thursday evening through Sunday evening the weekend after Thanksgiving in October.
Director, Merrickville’s Jazz Fest
The Director works in close collaboration with the Artistic Director, directing the activities of all aspects of the festival and represents MJF as a significant arts organization in our local jazz and cultural community. N.B.: Certain aspects of the work would vary in requirements for a virtual production versus a live festival.
The Festival Director oversees overall production of the festival by:
- managing the overall budget and finances of the festival;
- participating in the sponsorship program and supporting the Sponsorship Coordinator to develop a mutually beneficial program for our sponsors;
- overseeing the process of programming of the festival in terms of final decisions on lineup and design of the program;
- managing the official contracting process with the artists;
- developing and overseeing the festival production team as required (the size and duties of this team would vary in requirements for a virtual production versus a live festival);
- overseeing and supporting the volunteer program; working with and supporting the Volunteer Coordinator;
- overseeing the development and implementation of promotional materials and communications to advertise and promote the festival;
- managing the festival mailing list using Mailchimp.com;
- overseeing and managing online ticketing;
- hosting the festival;
- being responsible for the accounting and financial records for the festival;
- liasing with SOCAN/Entandem regarding festival licensing.
The Director’s busiest period of work is from the end of May when the programming begins until the festival ends and financial reports are completed.
The ideal candidate is a self-starter who is a people person, able to lead and collaborate in a positive manner and who has good organizational skills. The ideal candidate should have an appreciation for jazz and a general knowledge of the local and regional jazz scene, and should have demonstrable experience as an administrator and coordinator of events.
Experience working with various computer programs and social media skills would be an asset. Due to the restrictions of COVID-19 in 2020, all meetings and discussions took place online via Zoom, email or other virtual communication and by phone or text. Should the festival take place in 2021, this would likely be the case. In the event that the 2021 festival returned to a live presentation format, the Director would be required on site for the duration of the festival.
As MJF is a community event, organized primarily by the people of the village, and which benefits from local resources, contacts and venues, it is desirable that the Director be a resident of Merrickville. MJF has traditionally provided important opportunities for community involvement and pride of ownership in their festival. The Director has an important responsibility in leading the team to foster and encourage volunteer participation and pride in MJF so that all those involved feel their contribution is important and valuable.
Artistic Director, Merrickville’s Jazz Fest
The Artistic Director works in close collaboration with and reports to the Director, developing and managing the concert and educational programming as well as online promotion and website maintenance of MJF. N.B.: Certain aspects of the work would vary in requirements for a virtual production versus a live festival.
The Artistic Director manages numerous aspects of the production of the festival by:
- managing the curation of the festival lineup either by an application process to solicit interest in performing and a selection committee to review and vote on applications OR by directly approaching artists to invite them to perform at MJF 2021 (the scope of work and duties would vary in requirements for a selection process with a selection committee versus a curated festival);
- negotiating fees and performance agreements with chosen artists;
- programming the festival in terms of final decisions on lineup and designing the concert and educational presentation and scheduling of the festival;
- developing, posting and updating content for the MJF website and providing reports for the ticketing program OR working with a webmaster volunteer;
- developing and posting content for MJF Social Media including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram OR working with a Social Media volunteer;
- working in collaboration with the artists and technical personnel as well as performance venues and online live stream concert-hosting platforms to create digital content for another virtual edition of MJF (the scope of work and duties would vary in requirements for pre-recorded content versus collaboration with an online live streaming platform and if the festival were a live presentation);
- hosting the festival; managing the technical aspects of presenting the events online OR working with an online concert hosting platform to present the events;
- collaborating on the development of the contracts, other promotional materials and performing other duties as required.
The Artistic Director’s busiest period of production work runs from the end of January until roughly the end of July or August when the programming and artist negotiations are usually completed as well as the days leading up to the festival and the presentation of the festival.
The ideal candidate will possess a wide-ranging knowledge of all types of jazz and have personal experience as a working instrumentalist or vocalist. The candidate requires a solid awareness of jazz artists on the eastern Ontario and west Quebec scenes and be aware of the jazz scene and its players in Montreal and Toronto. A broad knowledge of international players on the jazz scene is also desirable.
The position requires a self-starter who is a people person able to collaborate in a positive manner and who has good organizational skills. Experience working with various computer programs, managing a website and social media. Due to the restrictions of COVID-19 in 2020, all meetings and discussions took place online via Zoom, email or other virtual communication and by phone or text. Should the festival take place in 2021, this would likely be the case so little or no travel is required. In the event that the 2021 festival returned to a live presentation format, the Artistic Director would be required on site for the duration of the festival.
The Artistic Director has an important role on the team, whether residing in the village or outside, in collaborating to foster and encourage volunteer participation and pride in MJF and to create and deliver a well-designed and engaging jazz festival to audiences in Merrickville and beyond.