Decisions decisions – choosing what to see – Emma Webster

EFG London Jazz Festival 2015 programme
EFG London Jazz Festival 2015 programme

Leafing through the EFG London Jazz Festival programme, I’m thinking about how I went about choosing what to see. A person obviously only has limited temporal and economic resources and the Festival only lasts for ten days with a number of performances happening at the same time and in different locations across the city. Fretting over my decisions also taps into the great 21st-century fear of FOMO (fear of missing out). What if one of the great jazz performances happens and I’m not there to witness it?! If only I had chosen X instead of Y!  What if Keith Jarrett does another Cologne Concert and I miss it?! This is even more of a(n admittedly pleasurable) problem when – in the lucky position I find myself in – I can get free access to many of the shows.

In the end, my decisions were made as follows: a small number of gigs were highly recommended by Serious staff, such as Seriously Talented, so they were concrete fixtures in my calendar. There were also a couple of academic events, including a talk by this project’s Principal Investigator, Professor George McKay, so they were also concrete. There were a few artists I’d really like to see so they also got added to the list (Ice-T, Submotion Orchestra and Gilles Peterson for starters). I also wanted to check out some of the educational activities, both those aimed at children and the more ‘academic’ style lectures and talks. Certain venues were also on my wishlist (the famous jazz venue, Ronnie Scott’s, for example), but I also wanted to get out and about in London to see what it was like to attend events outside the centre. Therefore my choices were based on the following primary and secondary considerations:-

1. Artist – who do I want to see and who should I see?

2. Genre – what kinds of jazz do I want to hear and what kinds of jazz should I hear?

3. Venue – where do I want to go and where should I go?

4. Educational – whose learning – mine or someone else’s?

5. Special projects such as The Streets in order to see the full extent of festival activities

Once the basics were mapped out on a spreadsheet, then logistics come into play – if I am at the Barbican on Saturday evening for 7pm, can I realistically get to Dalston, or Enfield for that matter, for a show starting at 10pm?

Thinking about my decisions helps me to understand more about an ‘ordinary’ punter may make their own decisions about who to see – those they actively choose, those which are more of an obligation, all of which limited and influenced by geographical, temporal and economic factors.


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