JAM on the Marsh
“JAM on the Marsh” is a vibrant, multi-arts festival that takes place in July each year in a number of venues across the Romney Marsh, combining performances by celebrated visiting artists with outstanding local talent. With music at its core, the festival also embraces art, photography, poetry, dance and crafts, bringing high quality events to this relatively remote part of Kent.
JAM is a charitable organisation that was established in memory of John Armitage, who aspired to promote music by contemporary composers before his untimely death from cancer at the age of 63 while he was studying as a mature student for a music degree at Canterbury Christ Church University. JAM began bringing concerts to Romney Marsh in 2008, building impressive audiences, but it soon became apparent that the area provided few artistic opportunities for audiences and artists, who seemed to be wary of performing in small rural venues, preferring to stick to major towns. Poor transport links and the remoteness of some venues on the Marsh have also tended to inhibit audience development.
After a successful pilot in 2013, Romney Marsh enjoyed its first full “JAM on the Marsh” festival in July 2014. Its success confirmed that there was healthy demand, galvanizing the organisers’ ambition to return with an annual festival. The festival incorporates a “Bring Your Own” (BYO) platform, enabling local artists to bring their own event whilst benefitting from being part of the festival’s infrastructure, and marketing, and helping generate the confidence to perform in a shared, supported environment. The festival works hard to nurture collaborations with local volunteers, venues, schools, businesses, arts groups and media, further embedding the festival in the wider community.
JAM on the Marsh has attracted the support of national and regional funders, including, since 2014 the Roger De Haan Charitable Trust, which has helped address difficulties posed by the lack of transport by helping to fund the JAM on the Marsh “Festival Bus”, bringing residents to and from events. As JAM on the Marsh grows, RDHCT has expanded its support to include transport costs for artists, helping to facilitate a range of events.