An initiative of SPIN Foundation, led by its Chairperson Motsumi Makhene and Executive Director Brenda Sisane. International Jazz Day brings together communities, schools, artists, historians, academics, and jazz enthusiasts all over the world to celebrate and learn about jazz and its roots, future and impact; raise awareness of the need for intercultural dialogue and mutual understanding; and reinforce international cooperation and communication. SPIN Foundation recognises the power of music and jazz in particular to foster unity and honour humanity. To spread the message further, it approached various stakeholders to partner in establishing the South African and Pan African chapters of this laudable initiative. The National Arts Council, University of SouthAfrica, SAMRO Foundation, South African Jazz Appreciators’ Association, It Has To Be Jazz Youth for Youth movement, The African World Heritage Fund, as well as other major role-players have put their weight behind this project to encourage a bold and robust engagement and propel South African jazz towards its rightful place as an international player with its own luminaries.
After 20 years of building a democracy and at a time when social cohesion and economic recovery is a high priority, IJD gives South Africa an opportunity to view the arts as a national asset and use ‘jazz diplomacy’ as a force for peace and justice. This initiative hopes that South Africa’s unique brand of jazz can become a catalyst for national reconstruction, cultural diversity and economic prosperity.
For the inaugural year, the City of Johannesburg created a platform for fans and practitioners in the city to participate in a consultative conference that created a framework for the IJDSA mandate and activations. In ensuing years since 2015, a series of dialogue events and performances now take place at the various venues including The Samro Foundation, City of Tshwane, The Market Theatre, The Orbit Jazz Club, Freedom Park, as well as Kaya FM through their Unplugged Series. This is only the tip of the iceberg. The initiative has grown its footprint nationally to include South African Jazz Educators, University of Kwa Zulu Natal School of Music, and independent event producers who have contributed to creating projects inspired by and exploring the role of jazz in social reconstruction each year on Jazz Day. Our overarching theme Roots and Routes of Jazz established the Jazz Day Movement in South Africa.