Motions: Generations In Jazz Major Events Status

Published Wednesday, July 4, 2018 | Share:

Mr BELL (Mount Gambier) (12:39): I move:

That this house—

(a) recognises that Generations in Jazz is the largest jazz festival in the Southern Hemisphere;

(b) congratulates the board and volunteers of Generations in Jazz on their efforts in facilitating this year’s event;

(c) recognises the significant financial contribution this event makes to the state of South Australia;

(d) calls on the state government to award Generations in Jazz major event status; and

(e) calls on the Premier of South Australia to invite prominent arts journalists from across Australia to be his guests at the 2019 Generations in Jazz festival to promote the event and South Australia, both nationally and internationally.

Over 5,100 students from 128 different schools travelled across the nation, gathering on the outskirts of Mount Gambier, to take part in the annual Generations in Jazz event held from 4 to 6 May this year for a monumental and inspiring weekend of jazz. Generations in Jazz commenced in 1982. The festival started as a school-based competition and is now the largest youth jazz festival of its kind worldwide.

In the days leading up to Generations in Jazz, there was no denying the uplifting of spirit in Mount Gambier. Buses were flooding in, students were exploring our vibrant city, a hum of jazz music was in the air. Bands and choirs spent any spare precious moment practising before the commencement of competitions the following day. I know the Premier will agree that the experience of being at the festival is unlike anything else.

On a sunny autumn day, we witnessed thousands of young Australian musicians gather to show their appreciation and shared passion of jazz music in what is the largest youth jazz festival of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere. Chairman of the Generations in Jazz festival and successful musician James Morrison AM said of the unique event:

There are plenty of music festivals that young people go to, but the big difference with this one is that it's all about jazz and everyone performs. What other festival do you go to where all 6,000 people who are coming actually play? If you just wander around these venues, you see all sorts of musicians of all different ages and standards all playing jazz. It's an amazing thing and it's incredibly inspiring for everyone.

Within 100 kilometres of The Barn Palais, the venue for the festival, all accommodation was fully booked. Students were sharing schools and sports halls, gyms and private homes, just to be accommodated. Housing over 5,000 people is no simple task, especially when they must also be provided with three meals each day. Catering is a major component of the event, but the entire Limestone Coast helps with the logistics of the world-class jazz extravaganza.

Coordinating the task is a team of dedicated volunteers who, year in, year out for the past 30  years, have volunteered their time to organise accommodation and find spaces for bands to play and choirs to sing. This year there were over 13 different venues and stages. One can only imagine the painstaking task of coordinating where 5,000 to 6,000 people are going to play in one weekend so that students in multiple bands and choirs are not overlapping.

The Barn served an estimated 21,000 meals over the weekend. An estimated 4,000 volunteer hours were spent on this year's event alone. This is an enormous effort, and I call on this house to praise James Morrison AM, the chairman of the festival for the past 30 years; the event organiser, Nethanel Sutton from Generations in Jazz; and the over 200 local registered volunteers, plus the unregistered volunteers, who have contributed to such a wholesome community event—an event completely unique to the South-East of South Australia.

Adelaide's Marryatville High School took out awards in the top divisions of all three major categories, including Division 1 Stage Band winner. I encourage Vickie Chapman, whose electorate this school is situated in, to attend next year's festival in Mount Gambier and watch this very successful school perform. The festival has unquestionably grown and continues to grow. This year alone there were over 5,000 performers, which is unique.

I understand that chairman, James Morrison, as well as the Generations in Jazz board members envisage that this event will become international with students travelling from Europe, Asia, America and all over the world to mix and play with our Australian students as they share their common interest in jazz music. Three schools from New Zealand have signalled their intent to come in 2019.

This year, The Cat Empire, James Morrison, US saxophonist Jeff Clayton, Madrid percussionist Nasrine Rahmani and Cologne-based trombonist Shannon Barnett entertained over 6,000 people seated in the James Morrison Pavilion, for which they needed separate sessions. US jazz sensation Patti Austin was a special guest artist at this year's event and described it as 'the most concentrated, soulful experience I have ever had in my life'. Such a unique festival not only increases the diverse culture of the Mount Gambier community but also boosts our economy. Generations in Jazz event organiser Nethanel Sutton said of the event:

Generations in Jazz has grown for three decades with no federal or state government support, solely relying on the generosity of donations, sponsorship and thousands of volunteer hours.

Government funding would assist in so many ways, whether it is securing artists for student workshops, appointing a more permanent event management team, improving upon our infrastructure or further expanding the festival.

The city of Wangaratta in Victoria has a population of just over 28,000 people. Each November for the past 29 years, the town has hosted one of the largest jazz festivals in Australia. They receive major support from the state government of Victoria through Creative Victoria, Business Victoria, the Australia Council for the Arts and the Rural City of Wangaratta, to name only a few.

To enable this event in Mount Gambier to continue to expand, I call on the state government to recognise this festival as a major event, and I call on the Minister for Tourism, the Hon. David Ridgway, to grant it major event status. Following this year's Generations in Jazz event, organiser Nethanel Sutton indicated that additional media exposure would increase the event's visibility and put 'regional Australia under the spotlight'. Mr Sutton went on to say that government support and funding would assist in stimulating the growth of the festival.

Generations in Jazz has grown for three decades with no federal or state government sponsorship. There is tremendous community collaboration and involvement in this event. Mr Sutton said that it also serves as a major fundraiser for sporting clubs, schools and charity groups that provide accommodation, catering, cleaning and other services. The economic benefit to Mount Gambier cannot be underestimated. The city council estimated that the festival delivered an economic uplift of $1.4 million solely in accommodation bookings over the three days in Mount Gambier. The member for Florey might have a little bit more to say about that.

Ms Bedford: A thousand dollars of that was mine.

Mr BELL: To promote this event even further, I encourage the Premier to invite arts journalists as his guests in the coming years to ensure that our event and our region is put under the spotlight. It is truly a shame to read about such an inspiring and monumental event only in the Mount Gambier local paper. Invitations could be extended to Mal Stanley from ABC radio, who presents Jazztrack on Saturdays and Sundays, Jessica Nicholas from ABC Jazz and, of course, Peter Goers, who hosts Evenings on ABC and is a great champion of regional South Australia. Further afield, an invitation could be extended to Andrew McMillen from The Australian. US jazz sensation Patti Austin said of the event:

This experience is magic—so please take this magic with you and please spread this magnificent musical fairy dust on everyone around you.

I trust that support from the South Australian government, through granting Generations in Jazz major event status, will ultimately fulfil Patti Austin's assignment of sharing this hidden gem of a festival with the world.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Member for Heysen.

Mr TEAGUE (Heysen) (12:48): Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker, for the opportunity to rise in support of the motion. I would particularly stress at the outset paragraphs (d) and (e) of the honourable member's motion. It is particularly important that Generations in Jazz stays in South Australia. It is a South Australian icon. It is an event of which we should all be proud as a state. I lend my wholehearted support to its recognition increasingly across the state as the icon that we all know it is.

Generations in Jazz started in 1987. There are 5,000 performers who attend now. While James Morrison AM is at the heart and centre of the event, he has been mentored by Don Burrows and the elder generation. James Morrison in turn found Emma Pask at the tender age of 16, who is now his regular vocalist. From Don Burrows to James Morrison to Emma Pask, Generations in Jazz attracts the greatest from each of the generations to Mount Gambier, South Australia, to one of the great events in music, so I wholeheartedly support the motion.

I am very proud to say that members of Heathfield High School in my electorate are proud competitors in Generations in Jazz, and so it is certainly spreading far and wide to the Hills. I want to highlight the great work of DaDux, who have competed this year as they have for the last couple of years. Zoe Smith, Emily Possingham, Jennifer Barnett, Darcie Bills, Loui Savva, and Abi Newberry all played in the new category of Jazz Combo. They performed well, and they are typical of the performance spreading far and wide across the state. I also want to recognise, as the member for Mount Gambier did, the great competitive work of those from Marryatville High School, the alma mater of my friend the member for Waite. They have been regular participants.

From Adelaide to the Adelaide Hills, Generations in Jazz is a great event run by a great hero of jazz in James Morrison. I am sure that, from DaDux to Marryatville High and everywhere in between, there are young jazz musicians, performers and mentors of all the generations who wish to make sure that this great event continues to grow and thrive in our great state of South Australia. I commend the motion.

Ms BEDFORD (Florey) (12:52): Apart from the member for Mount Gambier, I think I have the most experience of Generations in Jazz. I remember going down there with Modbury High School in my first year of being a member of parliament. They should be commended for being a non-special interest music school that has always managed to send a band down to Mount Gambier. Apart from Pedal Prix, Generations in Jazz is my favourite school-based function. It goes right back to those early days with Dale Cleves and some of his friends jamming in jazz.

I urge all members to read my Hansard speeches over the years. They will be enlightening because I go right back to the days when this was happening in the barn pavilion under the straw roof. Everybody fitted into that room and we now have the largest marquee in the Southern Hemisphere or almost the world by the look of it; it is just enormous.

The value of music cannot be underestimated. I cannot tell the house how concerned I am about the state of music education and the Department for Education through the instrumental music branch. I urge the minister to do as much as he can to make sure that music is not reduced. I must also put in a word for the volunteers. They make the event absolutely marvellous. It was a real thrill to see Soroptimist there again this year, providing food for the hungry hordes as they went through the days' programs over the full weekend.

As has been previously mentioned, there have been some outrageous hikes in accommodation over that weekend. I urge people to shop around and make sure they do not reward the people who go way over what would be expected to be normal in the costs of accommodation for the weekend. No matter how busy the place is, there is no justification for that sort of a hike.

I commend and congratulate the member for Mount Gambier. I assure him I am happy to come with him lobbying anyone he wishes anywhere in the state or beyond because, unless South Australia makes this its own, other states will try to poach it because it is an absolutely amazing event. Congratulations to everybody involved in Mount Gambier, especially all the music teachers who make sure their children in both public and private schools are ready for such a fabulous weekend of exposure to international, world-acclaimed artists. Just to watch it is amazing, and I commend the motion to the house.

Mr DULUK (Waite) (12:54): I also rise to speak briefly on this motion. I commend the member for Mount Gambier for putting this on the Notice Paper and recognise that it is more than just a great event; it is actually a great South Australian event. In particular, as the member for Heysen highlighted in his contribution, it is important to note paragraph (d) in terms of giving this event major event status. I know there are Victorians across the border, and the last thing we need is those nasty Victorians stealing our very good event.

There is a strong Victorian presence in terms of the management board and committee members of Generations, including former premier of Victoria Jeff Kennett. I just want us to ensure that every single South Australian school knows about Generations. My alma mater, Marryatville High, is a great contributor to Generations and a frequent winner, which is fantastic. Every school in South Australia should continue to participate in Generations.

I acknowledge that it is a tremendous opportunity for schoolchildren from South Australia and across the nation to participate and also mention the economic benefits that it brings to the city of Mount Gambier. The emphasis that it places on the state, and the role that the James Morrison Academy down in the Mount plays and highlights to the state, is a fantastic opportunity. I would love for this government and minister Ridgway to ensure that Generations remains a major event in South Australia.

Debate resumed.

Ms STINSON (Badcoe) (12:56): I rise today on my slightly broken heels, as the shadow minister for the arts, to support the motion of the member for Mount Gambier—and a great motion it is. Mount Gambier is on the map for many things, and each year Generations in Jazz helps to raise this regional city's profile and plant it on the map for arts and arts education. It dates all the way back to 1987 and has become a mecca for national and international jazz artists and helps to grow a passion in our young people—many of whom are here today—for art, for jazz and for music more generally.

I have been pleased, over the years as a journalist, to attend and report on the event. I can attest to the great energy in the town at the time that Generations in Jazz is being held. Over 5,000 young people in bands are drawn to the annual event each year. They bring their families and friends, and they boost the local economy. When those young people and their families leave, they take with them fond memories of Mount Gambier and the South-East to share with others and to entice them to visit our state and our regions.

In addition to the economic value is the cultural and educational value of the event. The value of the arts to children certainly cannot be underestimated. Not everyone has a gift for music. I certainly do not, beyond sometimes singing to pop songs in the car.

Members interjecting:

Ms STINSON: Yes, I am a big Iggy Azalea fan. Learning an instrument is certainly a wonderful educational exercise for children and young people. Pivotal to the recent success of Generations in Jazz has been the involvement of world-renowned jazz musician James Morrison. He has brought a passion, an energy and a profile that is unrivalled. He has driven the festival forward and boosted it to the high-profile and major event it is today.

That is why the Weatherill government was so proud to back the James Morrison Jazz Scholarship and James Morrison Academy of Music, which was opened by the then premier in 2015. That academy is a partnership with the University of South Australia, and they should also be commended for their investment. The academy was backed by seed funding of half a million dollars from the then Labor government, and as a reporter I remember attending and filing a story on it for 7 News. I most particularly recall the impromptu concert that we were all shouted to by James Morrison. It was just a glimpse of what an impressive musician he is and how lucky our young people are to be able to soak up his years of experience and talent.

This motion calls for Generations in Jazz to be declared a major event and we wholeheartedly support that on this side of the house. It will join the ranks of events such as the Adelaide Festival, WOMAdelaide, the Adelaide Cabaret Festival, SALA (which opens this week), Feast Festival, and the Guitar Festival, which is on very soon as well. I would like to commend this motion to the house.

Mr BELL (Mount Gambier) (12:59): I would just like to thank all members who have made a contribution on this debate.

Motion carried.

Sitting suspended from 12:59 to 14:00.