Plymouth's Barbican International Jazz and Blues Festival is axed
THE POPULAR Barbican International Jazz and Blues Festival has been axed this year.
A lack of cash and broken promises are being blamed for the shock decision.
Organiser Dan Thompson says that the pulling of council funds has resulted in the demise of the summer event.
Mr Thompson, whose company, Kaos Production Ltd, created, produced and invested heavily in 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."
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The festival, which started life in the quayside quarter of Plymouth in 2008, raises income from ticket sales, advertising and sponsorship deals.
But it needs public money to place high-quality free music shows on the streets of The Barbican.
Other promised 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 towards the cost of the festival – £10,000 in the first three years since 2008 and £8,000 last year."
There are hopes that Mr Thompson will get more support next year.
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, which is mystifying because we've built up a reputation regionally and nationally – even internationally – for putting on great music in a good setting.
"It's a shame that we can't go forward with the support of the council and the Waterfront Partnership."
But bosses of 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.
She added: "This year, however, the ask for funding rose more than six times for this single weekend event.
"With an extensive waterside events calendar to fund and promote, PWP and our Destination Plymouth partners were unable to contribute such a large sum and be assured of a large-scale visitor number return from this BID business levy investment."
Mr Thompson's counterpart Vince Davis, who organises the annual Volksfest in Plympton, said the lack of council support is bad news for the city as a whole.
He said: "Even if they get funding again next year, it's difficult to re-establish a festival.
"It's getting more and more difficult to run something like this. The council don't seem to look at the bigger picture.
"Cutting the festival will have a knock-on effect for bars, B&Bs, taxis, buses, restaurants – everyone."
David Parlby, chief executive of Plymouth Chamber of Commerce, said: "My reaction is one of surprise. I don't know the rationale for cancelling it but it was a good event that was starting to build a reputation.
"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."
Councillor Vivien Pengelly, who was council leader when the council started supporting the Jazz and Blues Festival, said she was horrified when she found out it would not be going ahead.
She said: "I am absolutely shocked to hear that council funding has been cut.
"The jazz and blues festival is extremely popular and attracts people from all over the West Country.
"It seems bizarre that the funding has been cut this year – the very year we are applying to be the City of Culture."
Plymouth City Council said it was "important" for visitors to remember with partner agencies they were providing a programme of "excellent events" for 2013.
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