Jazz Studies: jazz and/in the climate crisis – work-in-progress

Date & Time:

1st February, 16:00


Online event; the link will be sent out to those who register.


This work-in-progress seminar explores jazz and/inthe climate crisis, featuring Sarah Farmer, Chloë Antunes and Prof. Nick Gebhardt.

Sarah Farmer: Costumes, Games, Sci-Fi and getting your hands dirty; how social, participatory events could contribute to Degrowth messaging

Climate change and inequality are undoubtedly two of the biggest challenges we currently face, requiring huge systematic changes in the way our societies run, particularly in the West. Given that the processes that have led to capitalism and the climate crisis began as early as the 12th century, how do we expect our society to understand the power systems at work, imagine (and manifest) alternative green and fair economies and prepare ourselves for the inevitable large-scale changes that will soon happen? As artists how can we broach these issues without being trite, condescending, fear mongering or just plain useless? How can we distill the message of ‘Degrowth’ into artworks that address the issues in hopeful and energising ways?

If less is more and we need to reduce production, consumption and waste, then surely the arts have a lot to offer; collaboration, invention, imagination, humour, participation, craft, emotional and intellectual investment…. Artists are resourceful and imaginative creatures, something we need a lot of right now and multi-disciplinary, participatory events could become useful tools in connecting people, sharing ideas, fostering hope and action and changing paradigms. I will talk about two strands of my work-in-progress that will utilise participation, sci-fi, performance, humour and collaborative processes to explore issues raised by ‘Degrowth’. These are 1) creating new future ceremonies/rituals as participatory events/performances and 2) a pop-up games cafe (including making the games and curating a menu).

Chloë Antunes: Reducing waste and emissions in UK live music and festivals

UK music tourism was worth £4.7 billion in 2019 – yet produced the same amount of carbon dioxide as running 180,000 cars for a year. Previous research into the subject is minimal, yet further research is crucial; music is pivotal for sustaining mental health, spiritual wellbeing and social interaction. Carbon offsetting alone is insufficient to mitigate the effects of the music industry, as it does not stop the effects of ocean acidification and other pollutants. It’s clear that the way the music industry runs needs to change, but it is unclear who is responsible for this change. Consumer habits drive demand, but artists must take on a certain responsibility for the waste and emissions they create – particularly larger artists who gross millions in profit from world tours. Festivals must also take on the challenge of reducing their impact – Glastonbury, for example, whilst touted as a ‘green’ festival, allows the rivers around its site to be polluted by those using drugs at the festival. The answers to the music industry’s polluting problem have not been found thus far, as large bands such as Coldplay have turned to panaceas such as carbon offsetting their impact, and fail to do so effectively. We must seek solutions that do not play ‘white saviour’ and seek justice for those harmed, whilst responsibly enjoying live music.

Nick Gebhardt: Song X: parables of a planet in crisis

To this day no one really knows what happened to jazz in those few years in Los Angeles in the late 1950s. The stories are everywhere, though, told through liner notes and anecdotes, recounted in interviews, remembered in late night conversations, suspended in sounds and images. Some apocryphal, others nonsensical; bound together by the fragrant dreams and time-worn plots of freedom and escape. We keep searching…for the meaning of those odd phrases, the uneven playing, the idiosyncratic theories, the mystical visions, unsure of their genius, but convinced that things were different. Change of the century! Tomorrow is the question! This is our music! Sonic headlines for a generation of musicians born of economic depression, matured by war, and defined by the overcoming of limits and the promise endless economic growth. But all the same, as the boundaries broke, and the suburban consensus collapsed, there were traces of another history getting under way defined by a different sense of time and driven by This paper explores that other history of LA, mapping its effects on the post-WWII urban landscape, tracing its centres and peripheries, its materials, and its motions, using it to reorient our perspective on the shape of jazz to come.

About the speakers:

Sarah Farmer is an artist and musician from the Midlands. Her work is interdisciplinary, combining sound, music, animation, performance and installation, often drawing on folk music, contemporary/experimental sound, science, technology and sc-fi. She is a co-director of two artist run studio spaces (The Lombard Method and Ingot Studios) and co-director of Ideas of Noise, a sound/live art based collaboration with Andrew Woodhead which champions experimental sound makers in the Midlands. For more info see: www.sarahmfarmer.com


Chloë Antunes is a musician and environmentalist from Milton Keynes, living in Birmingham. During her degree in Music Industry Practice, she began to look into whether the music industry, rife with waste and with high carbon emissions, was capable of a change to a ‘greener’ system. She furthered this exploration during her Masters (MSc Green Economy), with a dissertation entitled ‘How effective has carbon offsetting been at mitigating the impacts of the UK music industry?’ This combined research produced a clear answer: more needs to be done. With the knowledge that music and live music events are key for human well-being – be it spiritual, social or mental – she aims to complete further research into music festivals and how they can reduce their impact. She hopes to begin a PhD in the next few years, producing a handbook for festival organisers to reduce their waste and emissions.

Nick Gebhardt is professor of jazz and popular music studies at Birmingham City University. His research primarily focuses on the social and cultural value of music and its meaning in everyday life. He is the co-editor of the Routledge Companion to Jazz Studies and the Routledge book series Transnational Studies in Jazz.