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Barbican Jazz Festival cancelled in cash row

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: March 02, 2013

Dan Thompson

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A popular Westcountry music festival has been axed.

Organiser Dan Thompson blames the pulling of council funds for the decision to cancel the Barbican International Jazz and Blues Festival.

Mr Thompson, whose company, Kaos Production Ltd, created and produced the event, said: "We're sorry to say that we can't put on our festival in 2013 because we have no public funding, and that's a real shame for The Barbican, for Plymouth and for the region."

The festival, which started life in the quayside quarter of Plymouth in 2008, raises income from ticket sales, advertising and sponsorship.

But it needs public money to place high-quality free music shows on the streets of the Barbican. Other funds from the newly-formed Plymouth Waterfront Partnership have not materialised in time for an event in 2013.

A spokeswoman for Plymouth City Council said they were "extremely disappointed" about the cancellation.

She added: "It was made clear to Mr Thompson from the outset that initial funding support from the council would only be available until 2012, on the basis that over time alternative sources of revenue would be found.

"The council agreed that funding for the first four years was to help establish the festival in the city's annual calendar of events, but that it was to become a commercial, self-funding venture by year five.

"We upheld our offer and contributed almost £40,000 since 2008."

Mr Thompson said: "In half a decade, we've built a reputation for a quality event on the waterfront that attracted visitors from beyond the city and across the Channel to enjoy what Plymouth has to offer.

"We were told repeatedly we'd get public funding to develop the festival to the next level, but that's never happened.

"It's a shame that we can't go forward with the support of the council and the Waterfront Partnership."

Bosses at the Waterfront Partnership insist that demands made on them were unrealistic. Sarah O'Leary, the waterfront manager, said the partnership contributed £6,500 to the event last year and had intended to contribute more toward the 2013 event. The investment comes from a levy on businesses in the waterfront area.

She added: "This year, however, the ask for funding rose more than six times for this single weekend event.

"PWP and our Destination Plymouth partners were unable to contribute such a large sum and be assured of a large-scale visitor number return."

David Parlby, chief executive of Plymouth Chamber of Commerce, said: "My reaction is one of surprise.

"A stop-start approach in events like this does damage the reputation of the event and you lose momentum, which I don't think is desirable."

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