TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival moves into the downtown core
After 21 years of presenting free concerts on the cobbled streets of Gastown, the TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival is moving its opening-weekend festivities to Vancouver’s downtown core.
“I think it’s something that the organization—and John [Orysik] and Ken [Pickering], the founders, in particular—has been thinking about for a very long time,” said Coastal Jazz and Blues Society executive director Fatima Amarshi, in a telephone interview prior to announcing plans for its new Vancouver Art Gallery/Robson Square site. “But I think the opportunity didn’t really come up until after the Olympics, and the way that they managed to really display the way you could have great, large-scale celebrations in the city that were culturally and arts-oriented, that were safe, and that engendered a really incredible spirit of community. I think with the city recognizing that, and with Vancouver’s residents recognizing that, the time was right. So we approached the city and requested the shift, and luckily we got the approval that we were able to move downtown.”
The change of venue allows the festival to add a third stage while reducing the congestion that was sometimes an issue in Gastown. It places the free concerts closer to such jazz-fest venues as the Commodore Ballroom and the Centre in Vancouver for Performing Arts. And it also makes the event more attractive to transit riders and prospective financial backers alike.
“From a funding perspective,” Amarshi noted, “there are opportunities here for a little bit more corporate support. Because it is downtown, it is a more visible location, and so there is an opportunity to interact with a potential customer base in a different way than Gastown offered. I think we’re going to slowly start to see more opportunities coming there from the private sector.
“And, of course, part of this is also to build a new audience for the music—audiences that will hopefully translate from seeing the music for free to really falling in love with it and buying tickets. So certainly those are part of the considerations.”
Festival organizers have also ramped up programming for the free concerts, June 23 and 24. Local crowd-pleasers the Dal Richards Orchestra, Maria in the Shower, and Phil Dwyer will appear, along with international talents such as French singer and cornettist Médéric Collignon.
“It’s really great to see the way that the city has come in and supported us to be able to do that, and the kind of vision that they have for what’s possible in Vancouver,” Amarshi said. “So we’re really grateful to them for being able to see that vision and being able to come in with us.”
For more information on the 2012 Vancouver International Jazz Festival, visit the Coastal Jazz website.