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Europe Jazz Network (EJN) is a nonprofit Europe-wide association of producers, presenters and supporting organisations who specialise in creative music, contemporary jazz and improvised music created from a distinctly European perspective. The EJN Award for Music and community, bestowed each year by the Europe Jazz Network (EJN) to an organisation or project for its groundbreaking work on social inclusion and was awarded to B:Music for its Generation Ladywood project.

Ladywood is the Birmingham district where both B:Music venues, Symphony Hall and Town Hall are located. Research conducted by the End Child Poverty campaign group found that 54% of children were living in poverty in Ladywood in 2019-20, one of the highest child poverty rates in the UK.

B:Music launched Generation Ladywood in September 2012, enhancing learning opportunities provided by Services for Education Music Services.

This long-term project connects Ladywood residents to music by:

  • Enabling school children to learn how to play music with professional jazz musicians;
  • Pop-up performances in school playgrounds;
  • Musical Picnics on-site and in Children’s Centres;
  • Supporting people – often in challenging circumstances – to attend concerts.

Generation Ladywood reaches not just schools, but community organisations, and businesses. B:Music has immersed 13,000 young people and their families in a world of music to support life skills, self-confidence, and well-being.

EJN membership includes 185 organisations (Festivals, clubs and concert venues, national/regional support organisations, Honorary members) in 35 countries.

The Board of Directors of EJN unanimously selected B:Music (UK) to receive the EJN award for Music & Community 2023. The judges said 'In the face of some sterling competition, B:Music impressed and inspired us with the way in which their Generation Ladywood project clearly and directly sought out and involved young people from Birmingham’s culturally diverse local communities. Reaching and affecting young musicians at risk of exclusion, and from a wide range of backgrounds, abilities and experience, the diverse session leaders also reflected the demographics of those communities well. Generation Ladywood proves how long-term investment in group music-making can have positive and long-lasting effects on the lives of these young urban practitioners, when delivered with such commitment and passion.

In addition to this, B:Music is running other projects that have similar aims, such as Progression Pathways or the Peer Mentoring Scheme, and has done an outstanding job in connecting all these different projects together, in order to be able to offer to participants many opportunities for follow-up and for a long-term engagement. We hope these exemplary projects will be equally inspiring for other EJN members in their ongoing work in the field of social inclusion.'

Toni Grehan, Community Engagement Manager at B:Music, commented: 'We are immensely proud to have won the European Jazz Network Award for best community outreach project. Here at B:Music we strive to develop projects that are in line with our ethos and moto 'To inspire a love of music through performance, participation and learning'. We have been working hard, to make sure our projects have true and meaningful impact for our communities. We have been striving for more diversity amongst our freelance team, in order for us to fully connect and inspire the students we are teaching, as well as introducing our young communities to a range of musical sounds that our freelance team can deliver. We have also been working hard to create a flight path of musical progression between all of our projects. We will continue to grow and further develop our projects, with our young community's personal, social and musical development at the heart of everything we do. Thanks to all of the team at the Europe Jazz Network for supporting the great work we do here at B:Music.'

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