Gargi Shindé is the Director of Programs for Jazz at Chamber Music America, a national network organization for the small ensemble music community. She currently administers CMA’s New Jazz Works and Presenter Consortium for Jazz programs, and in 2019 will launch a program focused on women bandleaders in jazz. She has over a decade of experience in program curation, artist development, and arts education, and has developed strategic marketing for a wide range of artists; and lectured on classical Indian performance history and the aesthetics of improvisation at conferences in the United Kingdom, Spain, Canada and the United States. Gargi is a classically trained sitarist and composer whose collaborations bridge Indian classical music and the traditions of jazz.
Artist as the genesis of equitable arts practice – Jazz music as the locus of cultural resistance
In its fortieth year as the singular national service organization, and funder sustaining the creativity and practice of small ensemble and chamber music – jazz, classical, contemporary – Chamber Music America adopted a commitment to diversity, inclusion and racial equity in its grants distribution. This step was taken as a deliberate course correction in the support for practicing jazz artists, who had the potential of receiving up to $38,000 in commissioning support. CMA acknowledged the low percentage of black jazz artists as commissioning recipients in its twenty-year jazz program administration, and a critical absence of black women practitioners. With an unequivocal understanding that the lineage of jazz music, its beginnings, and the development of its formal aesthetic have emerged through the innovations of Black American artists confronting, interacting, and sublimating global music traditions with the blues, new interventions to transform, and hypothesize the challenges within the creative ecology of jazz had to be grounded in its perpetually shifting musical genealogy.
In the Black Lives Matter zeitgeist, and the Puerto Rican disenfranchisement and devastation through Hurricane Maria, the US funding ecology found an opportunity to sustain the restorative and healing potential of jazz music in community reconstruction, resistance and identity. The presentation will focus on the obstacles created by institutionalized arts management in the form of cultural gatekeeping, and offer data, practice approaches, and urgent interventions in a currently divisive and marginalizing structure against which artists of color, immigrant artists, and women/ gender non-conforming artists are routinely pitted. US Funding institutions are founded on the Western European tradition, and evolved within a society that practices many forms of racism and exclusion, some of which continue to impact our artist communities today. In order to unravel these ‘systems of absencing’, the presentation will also attempt to unpack of the notion artistic excellence as enriched by a multi-cultural grantee pool.