Saturday, November 26, 2011

Succeeding Without Jazz

It may be a month early for a review of the year in jazz 2011, but it's clear that the dominant topic—at least during the summer festival months—was the debate over jazz vs. non-jazz programming at festivals.

For at least one festival—the one that is held in my hometown (and, standard full disclosure statement, the one that employed me on contract in 2009 and 2010)—a strong defence in favour of booking non-jazz artists has been made. At its annual general meeting this week, the TD Ottawa International Jazz Festival announced it posted a $162,419 surplus, despite paying 7.2 percent more in performer fees than in 2010. What's more, box office receipts were up 30 percent, to $782,447. The only non-jazz performer who tanked was Elvis Costello, who went onstage outside less than 90 minutes after a massive storm dumped record amounts of rain on the city.

So, for those hoping that headliners like Robert Plant, K.D. Lang and Daniel Lanois' Black Dub will just go away, that's not likely to happen. Cross-subsidization from popular acts like those to high-priced jazz talent like Brad Mehldau is a reality that festivals—and festival-goers—must live with.

1 comment:

shhhhhhh. said...

Not to mention that consequently, the festival will now be running a winter series and paying local jazz acts to open of off-season programming.

Everybody wins.

Craig Pedersen