John Nugent, Co-Producer and Artist Director
The essence of the CGI Rochester International Jazz Festival is people coming together to share the experience and
joy of live music. Our community celebrates as one at RIJF, drawn together by the universal language of music,
making connections, engaging with others and the artists. The people are our festival. The audience presence and
feedback contributes to making the music as exciting as it is. Operating in a pandemic requires mandates that run
counter to what makes RIJF so special, where instead of bringing people together we must find ways to keep them
apart for their safety.
Marc Iacona and John Nugent, producers of the CGI Rochester International Jazz Festival, announced today that the festival‘s nine-day 19th edition, first rescheduled from June 19 – June 27 to October 2 – 10, 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic, will be postponed to June 18 – 26, 2021.
“This is the decision we didn’t want to make,” said Iacona and Nugent. “We held out hope for as long as possible even as most major festivals and concert events around the world were postponing. But as we have now arrived at a critical junction, needing to finalize artists and logistic arrangements, reality has prevailed.
We are deep in the throes of a global public health crisis. The health and safety of patrons, artists, and our team including hundreds of volunteers must come first. We do not foresee being able to present the CGI Rochester International Jazz Festival in October in a completely safe, enjoyable, or practical way where tens of thousands of people can safely gather.
We will, therefore, postpone our 19th edition to June 2021 and make every effort to reschedule as many, if not all of the previously confirmed artists as possible."
Iacona said, “We strategized as to how to proceed if government and health officials gave us the go-ahead. It became increasingly clear however, that the prognosis for October is far too uncertain and the barriers to being able to deliver a successful event are still too great. Key factors would be unpredictable, unmanageable, or out of our control including capacity limitations, health and safety concerns, and travel restrictions. The additional financial investment for staffing, planning, implementation, oversight and compliance on top of reduced capacities and revenue and the significant financial losses already incurred presents a substantial risk to our festival’s future viability.”
“The essence of the CGI Rochester International Jazz Festival is people coming together to share the experience and joy of live music,” said Nugent. “Our community celebrates as one at RIJF, drawn together by the universal language of music, making connections, engaging with others and the artists. The people are our festival. The audience presence and feedback contributes to making the music as exciting as it is. Operating in a pandemic requires mandates that run counter to what makes RIJF so special, where instead of bringing people together we must find ways to keep them apart for their safety.”
More than 208,000 people attend the nine-day festival annually, coming from more than half of the United States and 20 countries around the world to see 325-plus shows, and 1750-plus artists perform.
“Many artists, we have contracted with and committed to, have advised us they are still understandably hesitant to travel,” said Nugent and Iacona. “The festival will honor those contracts with the artists. Those who were confirmed to appear here from almost 20 countries for the festival’s Made in the UK and Euro Jazz Now series, are unable to travel to the United States due to the pandemic, their visas are now invalid and the borders to America remain closed. Although shows had been re-booked with U.S.-based artists, travel within the U.S. also remains unpredictable due to quarantine restrictions.”
Distancing guidelines would severely reduce venue capacities, likely capped at 25%, if venues are even available. Access would be severely limited, making it impossible to accommodate all patrons.
Free shows, comprising almost a third of the festival's shows, would be extremely difficult if not impossible to manage for screening, distancing, and oversight.
Eastman School of Music has advised the Festival that there can be no more than a maximum of 25% capacity for Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre shows. This mandate would not accommodate the current number of tickets sold. There would be no equitable way to redistribute people to a less dense seating plan.
Other aspects requiring major attention would include restrooms, sanitation of high touch areas, air handling throughout 20-plus venues, none of which the Festival owns; food and beverage service and sales; transportation for artists and patrons; production equipment and staging logistics; parking and queuing in line; training and education; contactless payment systems; safety oversight and compliance; the list is lengthy.
Iacona and Nugent said, “We greatly appreciate the support of everyone who has written and called with their heartfelt support. These past few months have been an extremely challenging and emotional time for us, to be unable to present the festival we had worked hard over the past year to put together. But everyone’s collective health is our top priority. We are confident that the music will play once again on Jazz Street, but for the time being, we cannot risk adding to our community’s health burden. We will do everything we can to reprogram the entire festival schedule and keep the commitments that we made to the artists and our patrons for our postponed festival in June 2021.”
Good news! We have been able to reschedule the headliners shows, originally scheduled for this year – Puss N Boots and Spyro Gyra – for our postponed 19th Edition in 2021. Puss N Boots will perform on Friday, June 18, 2021. Spyro Gyra will play Tuesday, June 22, 2021. For those who hold tickets for those shows, tickets and selected seats are saved and are automatically valid for these rescheduled shows. Ticket holders do not need to do anything further. For those who wish to purchase tickets for those two shows, they are on sale now at rochesterjazz.com.
Club Passes may be redeemed at the newly postponed 19th Edition Festival now scheduled for June 18–26, 2021 or at the Rochester International Jazz Festival over the following two years in 2022 or 2023.
This story appears courtesy of Dalmath Associates Inc..
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