Friday, January 27, 2023

Merseyside Improvisers an introduction

Towards regional structures that support free ensemble improvisation in music in Merseyside


to promote and establish free ensemble improvisation in music  in the region of  Merseyside


  1. Where possible Merseyside Improvisers` will organise weekly music sessions within one hours travel of a center of Liverpool to create opportunities for individuals to regularly play and listen to ‘free improvised music’
  2. Merseyside Improvisers` will create a ‘house band’. Concerts will feature the house band and another act.
  3. Merseyside Improvisers` will support/organise a concert series either directly or indirectly by developing relationships with other organisations in Merseyside to create a cohesive schedule of events
  4. Merseyside Improvisers` will maintain an online webpage. This will include; event information, listings, weblinks to organisations, social media feeds, etc.
  5. Merseyside Improvisers` will recognise and utilise digital networks for communication and marketing.
  6. To constitute a structure/network called, Merseyside Improvisers`, with an agreed strategic plan and formal steering group. The sole function of the group will be to promote ‘free ensemble improvisation’ and to deliver content within the region of Merseyside. The group will meet regularly to review events and plan in line with its agreed constitution.
  7. Looking further ahead, the group will create a framework for research and  development.

Creative content:


Local activity

Taking a lead, or duplicating the Oxford improvisers model, `the weekly session` is a core element of this organisation or proposal. It is acknowledged that due; to a low density of interest, demands on personal time and diary commitments of individual improvisers that delivery in the short term may be characterised by low attendances. The hypothesis is that if the attendances are to grow over time and become quorate the frequency needs to be weekly.

Weekly sessions

To create the opportunity for an individual to play `free improvised music` on a weekly basis, within 1 hours travel of a central location: for Merseyside this could be Liverpool.

The format and content style of sessions featuring free improvisation may vary but the following are examples from existing groups:

  • Informal get-together sharing ideas 
  • Workshop sessions
  • Rehearsal opportunities 
  • Sessions without audiences or an audience of peers 
  • Concerts
  • Live session on `Zoom`
  • Outdoor open space sessions 

Discussion groups (zoom)

Administration and marketing

Key to the smooth running and development of the regional organisation is the way it will be administered and marketed. One simple way of administering is the following; 


  • To create a structure called Merseyside Improvisers
  • To hold regular meetings.

There will be regular meetings of Improvisers Merseyside members to review events and plan ahead using (most likely) digital online platforms to host the meetings. (For a list of digital & online tools - refer to appendix 3 (LINK to this appendix will go live before June 1st 2021)

The work of the members of the organisation.  


Members will need to support the functions of the organisation by sharing various tasks and resources to promote successful events. For example, if a venue needs booking someone will need to do that, someone needs to be there to switch the light on or off at the end of the session, small details but very important. (Examples of these to follow)

Administrative style and values. To recognise that if `many voices - one song` is a theme, the communications and `social discourses` that `many voices` produce are archived in one place such as The portal. This one place has the function:

  • To support the `portal` concept of the improvisers networks online website. 
  • The portal pulls all of the above content and hosts the content in one place; it is a collation.
  • The content in the portal can be directly placed there by an individual.

- refer to appendix 9 (LINK to this appendix will go live before June 1st 2021)

A digital Calendar:

To maintain one public calendar, an online listing of all relevant events in the area 

`many voices - one calendar` is the theme. This calendar is a simple list of events in the geographical area. The content of the calendar may not be exclusively free improv but include related artforms and is kept to an appropriate proportion. Google calendars are easy /simple to maintain and simple to share. It is speculated that Google is one of the top three brands on the internet.

Marketing – getting the word out

  • ‘Just google it’
    • To support the `just google it` campaign  - refer to appendix 8 (LINK to this appendix will go live before June 1st 2021)
  • The Newsletter
    • Using Mailchimp software.
  • The Social Media platforms
    • Facebook
    • Twitter
    • Instagram

It should be noted that the Improvisors Network UK is exploring the possibility of a support worker role. This is in the early stages of development, but this function would be a great asset to the development of regions. (more citation required)

A summary

An action plan can follow these simple ten steps:

  1. Registration: Enthusiasts, followers, individuals who want to know more can register their interest via the mailchimp contact form at the improvisers networks online website.
  2. Create a list of venues available live and online that are suitable for the weekly events and concert series.
  3. To launch the weekly session.
  4. The ``House Band`` will need to be created. 
  5. The following references Merseyside as a region and an example
    1. To propose a realistic date for the first Improvisers Merseyside event.
    2. The  Blank Canvas Sextet (formerely octet!) project could be the house band and starting point as it is an ensemble that met regularly pre-COVID-19. 
  6. To set a date for a meeting to agree administrative structures  
  7. To adopt a constitution -this has alrready been draft and will be made available.
  8. To consider adopting the `Oxford Improvisers` why reinvent the wheel!
  9. Agree robust organisational arrangements for the spending and auditing of any funds available. This will be part of the constitution (a link to the proposed constitution)

Enjoy yourselves! And overcome the obstacles!

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