There was a boutique feel to GJF '16; the concerts were beautifully curated in intimate spaces where great attention had been given to sound quality, acoustics, lighting and the compatibility between the diverse music and the spaces it animated. This was another defining aspect of GJF '16, though you would expect that as the festival growsas it surely must then it will need to consider additional venues. This will likely prove to be a delicate balancing act.
Those who attended GJF '16 will come away with personal highlightssuch things are totally subjectivebut all would no doubt agree on the highly sociable nature of the festival . It was impossible not to make new friends in such intimate surroundings, where music drew everyone, siren-like, to welcoming pubs, restaurants, bistros and clubs. In this sense Galway was a wonderfully inviting host, where every turn of a corner revealed a gem of a venue and abundant gastronomic temptation.
It's little wonder that Galway has been awarded European Capital of Culture 2020, because a city's eateries, its watering holes and its spirit of hospitality, as GJF understands very well, are key to the cultural experience of visitors and locals alike. In this regard, Galway punches well above its weight. Sew a plethora of world class jazz gigs into the fabric and the recipe is a highly seductive one.
On Galway's official 2020 European Capital of Culture website, a statement acknowledges the "opportunity to showcase the best cultural programme that Galway has to offer in Ireland and across Europe." On the evidence of this weekend, the GJF boasts all the credentials to potentially play an important role in promoting Galway's international reputation in the lead-up to 2020 and far beyond.
GJF has been built on pioneer spirit, boundless enthusiasm, bags of all-important volunteerism and a strong, generous community spirit. Hopefully, the important funding bodies will come to recognize the achievements of GJF and its potential to become, not only one of the jewels in Galway's vibrant arts calendar, but one of the most attractive jazz festivals in Europe.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Boyd Challenger/Galway Jazz Festival
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