Mid Wales

Brecon Jazz Festival seeks new promoter as Hay pulls out

A search is beginning for a new promoter to run Brecon Jazz after the Hay Festival organisation announced that it is pulling out.

Brecon Jazz has suffered a number of financial difficulties, and the Hay Festival took over the running in 2009.

But director Peter Florence said it would be concentrating on the Hay Festival's 25th anniversary in 2012.

The Arts Council of Wales said funding would be available to other promoters willing to take over Brecon Jazz.

First staged in 1984, the mid-August event has been a critical and popular success over the years, attracting leading international jazz musicians and up-and-coming artists from the UK.

The team behind the neighbouring Hay literary festival stepped in to rescue the music event after the previous promoter went bust after the 2008 festival, staging it from 2009 to 2011.

Mr Florence told BBC Wales that "the future is now in Brecon's hands".

"We have now fully completed our agreement with the Arts Council Of Wales to rescue Brecon Jazz festival from its failure in 2008 and to deliver it in a new format for three years," he said.

"It's been a pleasure to work with such brilliant musicians, and we're thrilled with the extraordinary press reviews of Sarah Dennehy's programming.

Image caption Peter Florence said the Hay Festival would focus on its 25th anniversary

"We are now focusing our work for 2012 on Hay in the 25th anniversary next year and on other developments in our home town.

The Arts Council of Wales (ACW) confirmed that the opportunity was open to interested promoters to take over the running of Brecon Jazz, to which it had contributed just under £125,000 in each of the last three years.

An ACW spokesperson said: "The Arts Council of Wales will continue to make funding available for Brecon Jazz.

"However, we will expect to see strong, appropriately skilled organisations who can sustain and build on the successes of the past few years.

"We will be holding discussions with the festival's other main funding partner, Powys County Council, to explore how they would like to see future festival events develop."

Ian Milton, producer of the Brecon Fringe guide and a board member of the town's Theatr Brycheiniog, was concerned a suitable promoter might not be found to save the main festival.

"It would be a terrible shame for the community if it did not happen," he said.

"It brings in the big names that attract a lot of people to the town who wouldn't come just to see gigs in pubs on the fringe.

"I will certainly encourage the theatre to consider it, though whether they'd want to take on the jazz again I don't know.

"The festival got too big for its boots quite a while ago."

Mr Milton said he was grateful to Mr Florence for rescuing Brecon Jazz, but hoped a new promoter would take the festival back to its roots of being seen and heard at venues throughout the town.

'Strolling' nature

"I didn't like it being moved out of the town centre into marquees at Christ College," he said.

"But a lot of the venues that had been main festival venues over the years are now part of the fringe."

Image caption Alice Russell brought a touch of soul to Brecon Jazz 2011

Former Brecon mayor Martin Weale said a jazz festival would go ahead between 10-12 August next year.

Theatr Brycheiniog was a core venue in the new plans, he said, but there were other parties involved he declined to name.

He said: "A festival such as Brecon Jazz needs professional expertise. Although the core of the organisation may well be local people, we know when we need professionals as well, so it will be a blend."

Mr Weale disputed the claim that health and safety regulations following the 1985 Bradford City stadium fire prevented a return to its "strolling" nature of previous years.

He said: "Our understanding of such things and the technology around it, and in fact the law and safety regulations around that, have all been updated considerably.

"I'm quite sure that nobody would put on a concert that was going to run such risks in the future."

A spokesman for Powys council said it expected to be in discussions with the ACW about the future of the event very shortly.

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