Punkt Birmingham 2020

Working with innovative Norwegian festival Punkt to create new artistic outputs and forge exciting interdisciplinary collaborations.

Punkt primary


Research background

Punkt Birmingham is an ongoing collaboration between BCU’s Jazz Research GroupPunkt Festival and the University of Agder in Kristiansand, Norway. Punkt festival takes place every September in Kristiansand as well as regularly collaborating with international partners.

The key figures leading this collaboration have been Nick Gebhardt and Chris Mapp from BCU, and Punkt festival directors Professor Jan Bang and Erik Honoré.

Punkt has a strong affiliation with the University of Agder (Norway) through Bang’s tenure in the Department of Popular Music. Students from the department regularly feature in the Norwegian incarnation of the festival.

One of the unique aspects about Punkt is the concept of the live remix. Concerts in the festival are followed immediately by a second remix concert. This uses elements of the initial performance (through recording and live sampling) to create an entirely new second performance. At the heart of the festival is the sharing of creative practice though talks and presentations delivered by artists, writers and other practitioners.

Through ongoing discussion with Punkt, we had arranged to present a Birmingham version of the festival at BCU in March 2020. As well as the lead organisations we had secured support and funding from Arts Council England, The Norwegian Embassy, Jazzlines (THSH), TDE Productions, BBC Radio 3, Music Norway and Midland 4 Cities in order to deliver a three-day festival.

The festival was due to feature 16 concerts combining Norwegian and Birmingham-based artists as well as students from The University of Agder and BCU. Unfortunately, we had to postpone the festival the week before it was due to take place because of the Covid-19 outbreak and subsequent lockdown and closure of venues.

Plans for continuing the relationship with Punkt are currently dependent on both Norway and the UK’s implementation of restrictions. Funding from all sources currently remains in place.

Research aims

  • To share the skills and experiences of all parties through artistic and cross-cultural collaboration with the aim of creating new artistic outputs and working relationships;
  • To examine the role of the inter-disciplinary within the practice of Punkt festival through collaborative working models and performances. The festival programme combined performers from RBC’s Music Technology, Classical, Composition and jazz departments with Norwegian musicians as well as involving researchers from ADM and the University of Agder;
  • Further develop/explore working models of the use of music technology (sampling etc) as a performative tool and its impact on improvised music practice;
  • To cement the nascent relationship between BCU’s Jazz Research Group and Punkt/The University of Agder in order to create further opportunities to develop an ongoing portfolio of research and create further opportunities for student collaborations;
  • To further the reputation of BCU/RBC as a leader in research in the area of jazz and improvisation studies through collaboration with a high-profile and well-respected international festival.

It was hoped that the festival would act as a catalyst to create an ongoing relationship between BCU and Punkt/University of Agder fostering opportunities to carry out research in the areas of jazz and improvised music studies, performance studies, festivals and practice-led research. Whilst we had achieved a significant level of interest about the project from leading media outlets (Jazzwise, BBC Radio 3) we have yet to be able to capitalise on that interest due to the postponement of the festival.

How has the research been carried out?

We are currently exploring ways we can progress our work together if it remains impractical to re-schedule the festival as planned. It is hoped that through developing a new working model we can remain true to the project’s original aims whilst working around the challenges of delivering musical performances post-Covid.

Funded by:

  • Arts Council England
  • The Norwegian Embassy
  • Midlands4Cities