The Jazz Centre UK

The Jazz Centre UK

The Jazz Centre UK, Britain’s leading charitable organisation for the education, promotion and preservation of the culture of jazz music in all its forms, announces the appointment of Mark Kass as new pro-bono CEO, effective 1st July 2020. Kass joined TJCUK earlier this year where he served as commercial Trustee. He is CEO of The Hive Enterprise Centre (located in the same building as the Jazz Centre) and the founder & festival director of Jazz East, the London East Jazz Network’s one-day live jazz festival in East London.

Kass’ appointment as CEO comes as The Jazz Centre UK’s founder, CEO and internationally renowned jazz trumpeter, recording artist & broadcaster Digby Fairweather transitions into a new advisory role as Creative Director. Fairweather will continue to spearhead creative and cultural development for the organisation across the world of jazz performance, as well as advise on memorabilia curation and heritage. He remains on the Board of Trustees, currently chaired by Gareth Evans.

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“I’m incredibly proud of what we’ve all achieved at The Jazz Centre UK since it opened in 2015” says Fairweather. “From our re-launch in 2018 we were making huge headway until the pandemic struck and closed us down. We decided that the lockdown period was a great opportunity to take a step back to review how we’d done so far and think about where we should go moving forward.”

Asked about his new CEO Fairweather says: “Mark Kass comes from an ideal background both in business and in the jazz world and is best primed to lead the organisation in its next chapter of growth and development; he has the vision, the know-how and an extensive network of local, regional and national jazz music industry connections and business contacts to take our exciting charity to the next level.”

“Digby, his Trustees’ Board and our team of dedicated & passionate volunteers have developed The Jazz Centre UK at its base in Southend-on-Sea in Essex into a phenomenal brand with incredible growth potential,” says Kass. “I’m thrilled to be at the helm at such an exciting time and am thankful to the incredible support from the Board of Trustees for their belief in my vision for the future. There is so much more to accomplish with our local and regional communities, and I’m looking forward to making sure we work smarter to build on our aspiration to become THE national centre of excellence for jazz education, outreach and performance in the next couple of years.”

Kass will oversee The Jazz Centre UK’s continued growth through strategic partnerships with major foundations, media organisations and corporate brands, whilst maintaining strict governance and cost disciplines alongside a focus on generating sustainable revenue moving forward.

“Our first priority, however, is our duty-of-care to ensure the safe re-opening of our unique exhibition space in Southend post pandemic lockdown” says Kass. “Thanks to the Covid Emergency Grant we’ve just been allocated by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, we’re now putting all our efforts into re-engaging with our volunteers, introducing sensible social distancing & protective measures, embracing new and utilising existing accessible technologies and making loads of good old-fashioned phone calls to instil the confidence needed to bring people back to the Gallery when we re-open again at the end of the summer.”

On re-opening, Kass will drive The Jazz Centre UK’s re-launch with the ambition of becoming a national lead in the arts, heritage and cultural space partnering with key brands, leading experts and notable personalities to bring a more diverse collection of jazz-themed artworks, rare memorabilia & historic artefacts to its gallery space in the architecturally iconic Beecroft Building in Victoria Avenue, Southend-on-Sea.

Kass continues; “working with Digby, the Board and an eclectic mix of volunteers, donors and our Patrons, we’ll deliver an expanded education program with academics and educationalists to introduce a robust programme of jazz-themed learning & development events. When lockdown lifts, we particularly look forward to re-launching our new extensive, diverse and exciting live jazz music performance programme in our very own “Jazz Café” in Southend… and we hope, further-a-field”.