Guelph Jazz Festival Colloquium 2016

Improvise Here! Profiles in Practice

Download a PDF copy of the Call for Papers.

The International Institute for Critical Studies in Improvisation, in partnership with the Guelph Jazz Festival and the University of Guelph, invites proposals for presentations at our annual interdisciplinary international conference. The colloquium will take place September 14-18 as part of the 23rd annual Guelph Jazz Festival. Featuring panel discussions, debates, performances, immersive experiences, a sharing of stories and best practices, and dialogues among researchers, artists, and audiences, the colloquium fosters a spirit of collaborative, boundary-defying inquiry and dialogue, and an international exchange of cultural forms and knowledges. This year’s edition of the Guelph Jazz Festival Colloquium will span all five days of the Guelph Jazz Festival. It will take the form of an Expo by showcasing examples of practice-based research projects, and seek to encourage a rethinking of the places where we conventionally look for knowledge.

Research on improvisation as a social practice is necessarily “practice based”; it manifests as research in performance, community outreach, social policy, pedagogy, therapeutic modes, technology, and other forms of embodied agency. Practice-based Research (PBR) methodology shares in the belief that artistic practice is itself a mode of knowledge production, and that the kinds of knowledge generated by means of artistic practice cannot be achieved or understood through conventional approaches to research alone.

“Those of us who work, teach, and study as ‘traditional intellectuals’ in institutions of higher learning,” writes George Lipsitz, “have an important role to play in analyzing and interpreting the changes that are taking place around us. But we need,” he insists, “to develop forms of academic criticism capable of comprehending the theorizing being done at the grassroots level by artists and their audiences, of building bridges between different kinds of theory.” Our colloquium takes seriously this insistence on building such bridges; on learning from artists and from grassroots organizations; on producing sustainable structures of cross-collaborative engagement that service multiple communities.

What, in such a context, does it mean to improvise here, to improvise now? What does it mean to learn through jazz, or through improvisation? And how might arts-based improvisatory practices themselves suggest new models of knowledge transfer? What might a focus on improvisational methodologies mean for community organizing? And what might we learn from jazz and from artistic improvisational practices that can be applied to local forms of activism?

We welcome proposals for paper presentations, panel or roundtable discussions, musical and other creative performances, and experiential offerings such as arts workshops and multi-media presentations. Please indicate the format of your contribution and any technical or other resources you require. We also invite participants to submit completed versions of their presentations to be considered for publication in our peer-reviewed journal, Critical Studies in Improvisation/Études critiques en improvisation (

Please send 500 word proposals (for 15 minute delivery – alternate formats will also be considered) and a short bio (maximum 250 words) by April 30, 2016 to The 2016 Guelph Jazz Festival Colloquium, c/o Dr. Ajay Heble, Artistic Director, The Guelph Jazz Festival: [email protected]