Council to ask sponsors to up jazz festival contributions after 70,000 attend

Over 70,000 visitors participated in the 21st edition of the City of Derry Jazz & Big Band Festival which ran over the May Day Bank Holiday weekend and plans are already afoot for the event in 2023 with some calling for increased contributions from sponsors.

Jazz fans in Waterloo Street over the Jazz Festival weekend in May. Photo: George Sweeney. DER2217GS – 089
Jazz fans in Waterloo Street over the Jazz Festival weekend in May. Photo: George Sweeney. DER2217GS – 089

Over 70,000 visitors participated in the 21st edition of the City of Derry Jazz & Big Band Festival which ran over the May Day Bank Holiday weekend and plans are already afoot for the event in 2023 with some calling for increased contributions from sponsors.

Having returned in its regular format for the first time in three years due to the pandemic, the festival which has been running for 21 years and has seen the likes of Van Morrison, Jools Holland, Jamie Cullum and many more perform, cemented its reputation as one of the most established and influential music events on the island of Ireland with a host of new acts performing including Liberals Soul Band, Hyde Park Brass Band and Luke Thomas & The Swing Cats.

Members of the Business and Culture Committee heard that this year saw the highest number of attendees to date recorded, with occupancy peaking at the highest level of 99.11% on Saturday, April 30. The event had over 60 venues participating with more than 400 musical performances.

Tourism Northern Ireland contributed £15,000 through their sponsorship scheme for 2022 and Diageo sponsored the event to the tune of £20,000.

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    Referring to the 2023 festival, Head of Business, Aeidin McCarter said: “For the 2023 event it is proposed that officers work within the existing rates allocation for the City of Derry Jazz Festival which is £120,000 which it is important to note will be subject to confirmation via the 2023/24 rates process.”

    The report suggested that in order to keep the festival growing and developing there will be a gradual need for transitional changes some of which will lead ultimately to council playing a coordination and promotional role, sub-venting the higher profile acts and travelling bands and delivering on the marketing plan.

    It suggested that in 2023 Tier 2 venues (must have an entertainment licence to qualify) would contribute 85% towards artist’s fees with council contributing 15% instead of this year’s 80/20 split.

    Sinn Féin councillor Patricia Logue proposed that the Mayor get conversations underway with sponsors to increase their contribution towards the festival and that the contribution by venues for the cost of the acts remain at 80% from the Tier 2 venues and 20% from council as ‘the cost of living crisis is impacting businesses and we want to keep this jazz festival going to the standard it is.’

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    SDLP councillor Rory Farrell agreed saying: “It’s good we are going to make representations to Guinness and Diageo to see if they can increase their contribution because what they give to Cork versus what they give to us there’s a massive, massive disparity.

    “We are happy maintaining the current subvention where venues pay 80% of the performance fees and we pay 20%. We are in very uncertain economic times and there are massive pressures on family finances and that’s going to impact the hospitality sector across this city so anything we can do to lessen that burden we should be doing it.”