mon 14/10/2019

'A laboratory for everything': Jasper Parrott on the future of his classical music agency | reviews, news & interviews

'A laboratory for everything': Jasper Parrott on the future of his classical music agency

'A laboratory for everything': Jasper Parrott on the future of his classical music agency

As Harrison Parrott celebrates 50 years with concerts on Sunday, its main mover reflects

Jasper Parrott: an all-embracing vision for the futureCaroline Roka

Fiftieth anniversary? It seems incredible but also so exhilarating not least because these times we live in now seem to me to be a golden age for music of all kinds and in particular for what we label so inadequately classical music. This flowering is all the more significant and exciting as we see politics and governments  around the world set on courses which can only damage and undermine the environments in which what is best about human talent and endeavour - and especially for young people and even more for children and the very young - should be encouraged to thrive.

It is sobering to realise that children are now our best leaders when it comes to issues of climate change, pollution, inequality and the barbarities of war and migration, bringing about in only a few months hopes of change and of real action instead of years of inertia and the numbingly persistent submission to ignorance and to selfish special interests.

Golden age? In our fiftieth year we are excited and inspired by the challenge of changing the model and the purpose of what has been thought of as the remit of the International music and arts management business and of what we have built up together over the decades. We now want to embrace the opportunities for creative and proactive collaborations with the two and even three generations of amazing and inspiring artists of all disciplines and genres we are so proud and fortunate to represent while at the same time expanding our productive partnerships with the most enlightened presenting organisations around the globe.

These challenges are difficult but exciting and every day we think  not only of the future success of our artists and through them of our company but of what we can do to enhance the general importance of the arts  as essential building blocks in a healthy peaceful and forward looking society. To do this better we need to try to incite our peers in learning how to speak out louder and more effectively for these values especially as our political classes continue to fumble with or to ignore totally the most important issues of our times. We need to join together to ensure that the historically unprecedented achievements of the last 70 years including freedom of movement and the widest possible distribution of prosperity and opportunity for all can be defended and further nurtured.

So these issues too are a part of our responsibilities when we start to think not just of where we might be when it will be time to celebrate HP100 in 2069 but much sooner - in fact within the next ten years within which I predict that almost everything we currently take for granted will have changed radically, will be struggling for existence or will simply have disappeared.

I can remember no single statement on the Brexit side which has even mentioned the catastrophic damage that is likely to follow on from even an orderly BrexitIn the world of the arts including music and indeed all kinds of creative work the balance between funding not just as lubricant to keep going the status quo but also to pay for research and development and the commissioning of work. To protect the essential risk taking which must be at the heart of new programming there must be enough safety to secure against unforeseen external circumstances including changes in local and government policy and to develop talent for the future. There must also be a better understanding of the consequences of decades of underfunding of cultural and creative infrastructure including in education training and good access.

It was shocking to read recent reports of how museum curators now need to take exceptional steps to protect their valuable collections even from leaking roofs as well as from vermin, humidity and decay.

We have hugely valuable and admired creative and heritage industries which draw in ever growing numbers of tourists as well as providing an immense return in tax revenue and in employment but throughout the long drawn out wrangling over Brexit I can remember no single statement on the Brexit side which has even mentioned the catastrophic damage that is likely to follow on from even an orderly Brexit.

It may say it all when one records that in the last eight years there have been eight different Secretaries of State for the Arts and even the remits for Media Sports and Digital have not changed the fact that this position is nothing more than a holding place for party acolytes ambitious to move to more highly regarded positions. We read widely about the changes in patterns and in the security of employment with full protective benefits to be faced as the impact of digitalisation robotics and AI accelerate.

What better protection could be made against such ills than making access to and participation in creativity in a genuinely inclusive and fair society of aspiration as central to national and local government policy alongside the NHS, education and integration. In our own field I am convinced that the changes will be rapid, radical and irresistible and I and my brilliant younger colleagues are keen to occupy a leadership role in this transformation of our company into a very new type of talent management.

Instead of acting primarily as the negotiators of binary transactions between artists and presenters - and this of course will still need to be done with wisdom astuteness and informed professionalism, we need to expand our role as creative partners and producers either alone or consortia and as influencers and lobbyists. We also need take risks ourselves and to find like minded partners to share these with us and to mitigate the consequences of failure. We need to educate ourselves as widely as possible, attend as much exciting new work as we can and reach out to artists of exceptional talent not only in music but also in other arts and in particular in dance and contemporary art, especially in installation and digital innovations, and in helping to validate other genres of music including from cultures different from our own. We also need to think about what contribution we can make though our recently launched HP 50 Foundation, the first of its kind created by any organization in our field .

We are also committed to expand our established policy of cross border internationalism particularly with the EU, and to open up opportunities for our artists and our staff to the widest range of languages cultures and backgrounds. Indeed with the help of our branch offices in Munich and Paris, seek to maintain the principles and practices of mobility and cross fertilization in the creative arts which has been such a noble result of more than 40 years of EU membership.

In essence we need to think of ourselves as a Laboratory for Everything. And this will be the programme for the next five years as we start on the road towards HP100 in 2069....

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