Delighted to announce that John Cumming, one of the three Directors of Serious, has just been appointed as an OBE in The Queen’s Birthday Honours List.

The award, for Services to Jazz, publicly recognises John’s long-standing commitment to the music. The OBE is awarded to those who have a ‘major role in their activity, and whose work has made them known nationally in their chosen area’.

John is the primary programmer of jazz at Serious, creative producers of live music and events, with a long history of delivering world-class concerts and events across the UK, as well as running ground-breaking jazz education and professional development schemes for musicians.

John is committed to the important role that jazz plays in the fabric of music in the UK, working with festivals, concert halls, and local jazz clubs throughout the country over the years, as consultant and producer on the design and operation of their jazz and contemporary music programmes. As well as working with many of the established national and international figures in today’s jazz, he has a long history of commissioning new music and encouraging new collaborations between artists from different cultures and generations. 

John’s interests go beyond the concert hall and he has consistently championed the cause of jazz education in the broadest sense, through workshops, talks, schools and community participation, and music college collaborations. He is the lead director for Serious on the highly successful Take Five scheme for the professional development of emerging creative jazz musicians, and following the achievements of Take Five editions in the UK, Europe and Switzerland, has also worked on the Scottish version of this highly successful scheme – Air Time.

John’s work has contributed towards jazz being increasingly accepted as a dynamic and innovative art form, by the public and the media. Audiences for jazz and contemporary music have grown steadily and strongly in the last 10 years and Serious now produces over 550 events nationally every year, working with over 3600 artists and reaching live audiences of over 400,000, with a further broadcast audience of over five million reached in 2013. 

From the late 1960s John worked primarily in theatre as director and lighting designer.  Co-founder/director of the Pool Theatre, Edinburgh (his native city) in the early 70s, he worked with companies such as Welfare State International and IOU Theatre, and joined South Hill Park Arts Centre, Bracknell in 1973, where he ran both the theatre and music programmes, and where he started the Bracknell Jazz Festival, building it over more than a decade into the country’s major international platform for contemporary jazz and improvised music.  He also programmed the Camden Jazz Week from the late 70s and into the early 90s, and as it evolved into what has become today’s EFG London Jazz Festival, which celebrated its 21st birthday last year.

He has been a member of a number of Arts Council and Regional Arts panels and committees, and until recently was a long-standing board member of Europe Jazz Network.

He received Services to Jazz Awards at the 2005 BBC Jazz Awards, and in 2012 from the All Party Parliamentary Jazz Appreciation Group.