John Gilbreath photo by Bill Uznay.
Now Serving Number 21!
Happy New Year from everyone here at Earshot Jazz! It almost seems like any glimpses of optimism for the coming year should be accompanied by a medal of valor for making it as far as we have through the battleground of 2020. We hope that you and yours are safe and healthy, and are able to discern at least a glimmer of light at the end of this tunnel.
I believe that we’ve all stepped significantly outside of our “normal” lives in this past year, and that may ultimately be a useful process for many of us. While the global pandemic essentially forced us to pull back into ourselves, the isolation and focus on the essentials of life provided the time and the platform for serious introspection. The killing of George Floyd and others at the hands of the police, and the justifiable, even overdue, outrage those killings brought about, was exacerbated by a political system that was modeling behaviors that seemed hopelessly self-serving and fundamentally out of touch with the world around us. Beyond mere food for thought, it’s time for radical self-examination.
Like everyone, the Earshot organization took some deep hits this year. This past summer, we spent time as an organization taking apart everything we do, evaluating our component parts, and reassembling those program areas deemed as essential. In the face of all of the things we couldn’t do, we focused on what we can do; for the art form, for our home community, and for the survival of the organization. We also examined our internal beliefs and processes—the work we typically present, our vendor relationships, our board and staff, our collaborators—all through the lens of inclusion and equity. We set to making adjustments to our operations while holding closely to those things which reflect and connect most organically to this community.
Even with new national leadership and welcome shipments of vaccine, the shift from “pandemic” to “post-pandemic” is likely to play out through the entirety of this year. The past year has already been devastating to the artists, venues, and related support systems for live music. Even those venues that may be able to gradually reopen will be reeling financially. Meanwhile, the concert-going public is sure to be slow in regaining confidence.
Our organizational vision for the post-pandemic process involves a necessary redoubling of our commitment to our home community. Our role has got to be that of a leader in kick-starting safe, public jazz performance, and stepping up to provide more opportunities for Seattle artists.
As always, we appreciate any advice and support you may offer. We wish you a safe and spectacular new year—a new year made better by the lessons we’ve learned, the work we’ve done, and the joy of reconnecting with community.
– JOHN GILBREATH, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR