Notes on JazzFest’s future

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A jazz festival with four decades of history may be transformed into Queenstown’s newest world-class attraction.

This year’s JazzFest, to be held over Labour Weekend, has been downsized while organisers take stock of its future.

That means the resort could instead get its own, slightly smaller, version of events like Coachella or SXSW, according to organisers.

JazzFest Trust member Luke Baldock says it’s “taking a pause” to look at JazzFest and work out how to keep it “relevant and sustainable”.

“As a genre of music, it probably has a fairly niche following.”

That could mean a wider arts and culture festival, tying in everything from music to comedy to animation “under one umbrella”.

“We’ve got the opportunity to create something quite unique.”

It’s early days, but the trust will likely be talking to a range of stakeholders, from venue owners to members of the resort’s creative community, he says.

“Queenstown’s got so much that’s appealing about it, it’s almost expected that what we do here is world-class across the board.

“Jazz will always be a strong part of any evolution.”

Along with Luma festival, which takes place at Queen’s Birthday Weekend, it’ll bookend the busy winter season.

“Both are staged during traditionally quieter times of the year, from an economic as well as events perspective, attracting visitors to the district during shoulder seasons, and encouraging locals to come out and rediscover their own town.

“They’re two holidays that are distinctly local.”

While the festival’s future is up in the air, jazz aficionados will still be able to get their fix this year.

JazzFest 2018 will feature a free community concert at Earnslaw Park on October 20, and there’ll be free gigs at Gibbston Valley Winery, Jack’s Point restaurant, Yonder and Sofitel’s 1789 Wine & Jazz Lounge.

daisy.hudson@scene.co.nz