Thursday, November 27, 2008

Another One Bites...

Okay, this is threatening to turn into a recurring feature called Jazz Death Watch.

Thanks to my old buddy Calvin Wilson, news comes of the death of the St. Louis Jazz and Heritage Festival. The festival's presenter, Cultural Festivals, has announced that it's withdrawing its support. In the St. Louis Post-Dispatch blog Culture Club, Calvin reports that there's a possibility that Sheldon Concert Hall and Jazz St. Louis will join forces to resurrect the festival, but it's dead for now.

Here in Ottawa, all of our festivals – including the well-established TD Canada Trust Ottawa International Jazz Festival and the world's largest chamber music festival – are threatened by the city government's pending motion to withdraw all funding. The funding itself doesn't amount to that much of the individual festivals' budgets, but as the festival organizers point out, municipal funding is a gateway – maybe cornerstone is a better metaphor – to other funding. If your own government isn't behind you, goes the thinking, why should other funders get onboard?

This death watch is getting depressing. Yes, times are tough, but why is jazz – and culture in general – such an easy target?

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