The Jazz Co-op has announced a five-day festival to celebrate 10 years of community ownership for its Newcastle venue, the Globe.
10 Years A Co-op is a is a five-day, multi-genre music festival featuring rock, jazz, folk/acoustic and more. The bill includes national and local artists and performances by emerging musicians from the Globe’s programme of learning and participation.
It marks a significant landmark for the co-op, which on 30 April 2014 saw the Globe become the first pub/venue in the UK to be owned and run by a co-operative committed to live music.
“Ten years ago the Globe was a failing pub,” says Jazz Co-op. “Today it is a thriving grassroots venue that holds over 30 gigs a month and hosts workshops and courses for musicians, songwriters and dancers. This is a remarkable achievement and well worth celebrating.”
The co-operative itself was set up over a year earlier, with the seeds sown at the funeral of a much-loved local character, Keith Crombie (1939-2012), who had set up and run the Jazz Cafe in Pink Lane for over 20 years. Mourners were determined that his legacy should live on, and the idea gained traction until, on 5 March 2013, Pink Lane Jazz Co-op Ltd registered as a co-operative society.
“The idea of setting up a co-operative came from my wife Joan and I,” says co-founder Dave Parker. “We have both been very actively involved in co-ops all our lives. We also both love jazz. Although we had the original idea we could not have set it up or achieved this 10-year milestone without the strong support of many other people.”
He adds: “We thought carefully about the purpose of the cooperative. It is significant that one the primary objectives is education and training. The Globe’s programme of learning and participation is a fundamental part of the operation.“
The co-op arranged events at venues around Newcastle while attempting to buy or rent the old Jazz Cafe; when this fell through, the team looked for an alternative and in January 2014, members passed a resolution to issue shares to raise investment to buy the Globe, a run-down pub and night club.
The community share issue was a success and together with a long-term loan from an ethical finance institution enough money was raised to buy and refurbish the property. On International Jazz Day 2014 (30 April) The Globe became the first bar and venue to be owned freehold by a co-operative committed to live music.
“It is worth remembering that community-owned pubs were rare 10 years ago,” says Parker. “We did this without any help from Plunkett, for example. Co-operative & Community Finance were very supportive.”
The first AGM of Pink Lane Jazz Co-op on 15 July 2014 approved the proposal to change the trading name to Jazz.Coop. After substantial renovation, including the installation of a lift and accessible toilet, The Globe was fully operational on both floors by October 2014.
Over the next five years it became established as a key small venue in Newcastle, and developed a lasting reputation as a place for people to learn to play jazz and develop their skills in a supportive environment.
There have been challenges along the way. At first the Globe was run by tenants, but when this proved unsuccessful the team decided to employ a manager and run it themselves. “This was a lot more work for the voluntary board than we had expected,” says Parker.
Another challenge was the pandemic. “Strangely, the c-ooperative flourished during Covid,” says Parker. “Our purpose is to provide live music, not necessarily to run a pub. For most of the pandemic, musicians and technicians worked in a Covid-secure environment at the Globe to deliver high-quality livestreams.”
To find its way through the lockdown, the co-op consulted members and supporters, who agreed that the enforced closure created opportunities to consolidate and improve the Globe’s work and develop new services.
Alongside the livestreams, the Globe was refurbished to make it Covid-safe and new equipment was installed by volunteers, helped by funding from Power to Change and the Culture Recovery Fund.
The Globe continued to operate throughout most of the pandemic, providing income for musicians, employment for staff, and entertainment for isolated people. It broadcast 15 events a month including jazz, folk, rock, and classical. Its efforts were recognised in a series of national awards: Small Community Co-op of The Year 2021, Parliamentary Jazz Award for Lockdown Innovation 2021, Jazz Venue of the Year 2022.
The pandemic also saw the venue broaden its scope to build a reputation as a multi-genre grassroots venue. “Although the co-op was set up to support jazz, there was a strong desire to support all live music,” says Parker. “In the last two years The Globe has been programming a much wider range of music.“
But while it is celebrating its milestone, the Globe “faces two major and immediate challenges,“ says Parker. “One is financial. The market conditions for running a small music venue are very difficult indeed. The Music Venues Trusts reports that last year two venues closed each week.
“The second is co-operative. Jazz.Coop has about 230 members most of whom joined at the start and most of them are quite old. Only a small number are actively involved. The co-operative desperately needs new people to join and take the Globe forward for the next 10 years. I hope the publicity generated by the 10 Years a Co-op festival will attract them.
“We are convinced that the Globe has succeeded because it’s community owned. People have been prepared to get involved, share their skills and experience and invest time and money when we’ve really needed it.”
Jazz.Coop says: “The Globe is a relatively small venue and we expect some events will be sold out, so we recommend buying tickets well in advance. As an extra incentive we are offering a limited number of earlybird tickets at a reduced price.”
The co-op will also be live-streaming the first and last gigs of the festival. The livestream video can be watched live, or after the event.
Friday 26 April
Saturday 27 April
Sunday 28 April
A relaxed afternoon jazz jam session and a foot-stomping evening gig with New Orleans Swing Jazz band Alligator Gumbo followed by a swing dance DJ
Monday 29 April
Learning & Participation Showcase featuring participants from the Globe’s various courses and workshops including bluegrass, folk, jazz and songwriting
Tuesday 30 April
This day is the anniversary of The Globe becoming community owned. There will be celebrations in the early evening “with buffet, cake and good cheer”. It’s also International Jazz Day so the festival will round off with the Clark Tracey Quintet featuring some of the best jazz musicians in the UK.