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Galway Jazz Festival 2019

Ian Patterson By

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During GJF19 a team of volunteers handed out surveys at every gig and event that was designed to measure, as far as is possible, each festival goer's carbon footprint and the price— as a percentage of personal total expenditure over the weekend—that people are wiling to pay to offset their carbon footprint. Preliminary results suggested that 10% would be an average carbon 'tax.'

This survey was part of an experiment, conducted in partnership with the Ryan Institute at NUI Galway, an institution comprising eighty-nine inter-disciplinary research groups. The Ryan Institute will analyse all the date from GJF19, that's to say, internet usage, travel distances and mode of transport, electricity consumption and energy-saving practices in host venues and accommodation, eating/drinking habits and so on. The results should paint a clearer picture of the impact of GJF and could provide a useful template for other festivals.

Musically, GJF19 was a tremendous success. For the variety of music, all of it with an improvisational core, and for the quality of the performances, GJF once again showed its credentials as a truly world class festival. That it all unfolds in one of Ireland's most attractive cities, with its medieval churches, pubs of great character, inviting restaurants and coffee shops, and a car-free pedestrian centre, makes the experience all the more enjoyable.

More so than any other jazz festival in Ireland, GJF supports Irish jazz/improvising artists to a significant degree. The three commissions were proof positive of that. It would be a major surprise if Lauren Kinsella's Saoirse, Donal O'Kelly's Roxy's Head Is Melted and Bog Bodies do not go on to enjoy greater national and even international exposure. GJF is undoubtedly an international festival, but the depth of Irish talent is obvious to all who attend. And this is how it should be.

In the middle of Galway's busy pedestrian centre, on William Street, sits a bronze statue of Oscar Wilde and Estonian writer Eduard Wilde, locked in conversation. The meeting is an imaginary one but the inscription below, attributed to Oscar Wilde, is real: 'It's only by contact with the art of foreign nations that the art of a country gains that individual and separate life that we call nationality."

Wilde's words serve as a reminder that no nation thrives in a bubble, no art grows significantly without absorbing outside influences—jazz is a fine example of that— and no global movement exists without local action. GJF knows that. And as Great Thunburg's dog Roxy would say, "The dogs in the street know."

Photos: Courtesy of John Cronin, Dublin Jazz Photography

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