The Next Step

The Next Step in Talent Development

Parallelly to the Amersfoort Jazz festival 2019, the World Jazz Conference takes place. This 2019 edition will be the fifth edition, taking place from May 24th to May 26th in the conference center De Observant in Amersfoort. Initially, the World Jazz Conference was set up as a get-together for international jazz professionals in the sideline of the Amersfoort Jazz festival, but it has now grown to a fixed item in the agenda of international professionals acting in the field of jazz and world music. This is evidenced by the fact that most of them return annually and new professionals continue to join.

The explanation for its success is simple: things get done in Amersfoort. This is mainly due to the participants, who show a great eagerness to work and clearly want to achieve results. They want to collaborate and develop new initiatives, help the creative sector and continue to show the dynamics of the genre.

Birth of the International Jazz Laureate Festival

Achieving proper results is of great importance to the conference participants. One of the most striking results of the past few years is the Sena Performers International Jazz Laureate Festival.

In 2016, the conference delegates concluded that it was often difficult for award-winning artists and musicians to take the next step: an international career. After all, if you win an important prize as a musician in your home country, this is usually already the ‘end’ of success, in the sense that there’s no system to connect these national laureates with an international audience of decision-makers. Hence, in 2016 the conference participants shared the idea that an international palette of laureate talent would be desirable.

The idea was immediately supported by the conference visitors and the Dutch neighbouring rights society Sena Performers promptly adopted the concept. This allowed the International Jazz Laureate Festival to grow into a strong showcase program that helps ambitious musicians and bands to take the next step into an international career.

The 2019 edition

Over the years the conference participants have streamlined the Laureate Festival by installing a program committee and introducing the partnership program. Artists are only eligible to perform and subject to selection by the program committee if they are endorsed by a festival from their home country and, of course, if they have participated or won a relevant competition recently.

Representatives from festivals who were participating at the conference were offered the option to enter into a partnership with the JazzNL Foundation, which would result in having a guaranteed slot at the Laureate Festival for the artist they are endorsing. In return the festival promises to invite an artist or band to their own festival, which they’ve seen performing in Amersfoort. The partnership program received a high amount of interest and as a result almost all performances at the Laureate Festival 2019 issued from a partnership program, which – per definition of the partnership program – will result in a large amount of invitations to play at other festivals for artists that are performing in Amersfoort during this year’s festival weekend.

The Next Step in Talent Development

The board of the JazzNL Foundation and its sponsors and partners are extremely proud to see the World Jazz Conference grow into a platform which contributes to the development of talent. Every year the conference participants manage to come up with more ideas and initiatives which are adopted by the group, a group which shares a vision: the vision that festivals play a crucial role in the international development of talent and that collaborating is one of the most important aspects in achieving results.

World Jazz Conference theme

 We’ve created this great showcase of highly potential international talents and set up fruitful partnerships, but what’s the next step? What can we do more? How can we provide opportunities for artists on an international scale? How should we collaborate as festivals in order to contribute to the careers of talented musicians? This will be the topic of this year’s conference.

Like every year we have exciting round table talks and work group discussions during which we hope to ignite new initiatives and stimulate bilateral collaborations. All in favour of the commonly shared goal of the network: helping talent to break through internationally. To give you an example, one of the planned sessions during the conference will consist of festivals within the EU investigating the possibilities of issuing a joined application for subsidy from the European Union under the name: Laureates on Tour.

What can I do to contribute?

Therefore, the central question directed at the conference participants of this year is basically: “What can you and your organization do in your home country to facilitate international growth of talent? What would you need from other participants in achieving this common goal? Can you stimulate your own national network of relevant players to join you in facilitating initiatives?”

These are difficult questions which are not easily answered, but as we’ve seen over the relatively short 5 year history of the World Jazz Conference: things get done in Amersfoort, and although steps are small and taken cautiously, we’re definitely moving forward, visible in the fact that the conference participants have already had a positive effect on the international chances of jazz musicians.

It is satifying to see that the World Jazz Conference, Amersfoort Jazz and the Laureate Festival has an effect on the conference participants and stirs their interest and ambition. We are convinced that the 2019 edition will add a new chapter to this book written by the frontrunners of the international world jazz scene.

We hope you’ll have a great conference and enjoy an exciting festival, and we greatly look forward to your input in the sessions.


Michel Peek

World Conference Director