Organiser cancels Blackpool Jazz and Blues Festival 'with a heavy heart' due to funding woes

The Blackpool Jazz and Blues Festival in 2017
The Blackpool Jazz and Blues Festival in 2017
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The Blackpool Jazz and Blues Festival will not be returning to St John's Square this year.

Event organiser Stephen Pierre, who ran the festival from 2015 until 2018, said he made the difficult decision to cancel the show as a lack of funding meant it was no longer possible to continue.

He said: "It is with a heavy heart that I have to announce that The Blackpool Jazz and Blues weekend has been cancelled.

"This non-profit fringe festival has been vastly underfunded for several years. Unfortunately it's not sustainable or viable to stage a free public event of this kind without a corporate sponsor or local authority support.

"When I wanted to start it in 2014, the whole idea was community engagement to bring people together, and bring together musicians from around the region. We have been trying to grow it, but from the very start it was a challenge because we were never able to get sponsorship.

"Unfortunately we have not had the help or support of the local council.

"My business in Blackpool, the Galleon Bar, has been predominantly the sponsor of the event. But like every business in Blackpool town centre we have all had a very challenging 18 months with roadworks, so I have come to the conclusion that it's just not sustainable for me to do this event.

"This is disappointing and it has been difficult to make this decision, but when you look at the cost of the stage, the musicians' expenses, the production costs, the leaflets and flyers, it's a lot to fund without any authority support.

"I'm having to back out gracefully, and I hope the town can find a way of raising its cultural profile because that's what the town so desperately needs, and there's a lot of great musical talent on the Fylde coast which isn't these days getting the opportunity to showcase its abilities."

The Blackpool Jazz and Blues Festival, which was supposed to run on July 27 and 28, raised money for Trinity Hospice in previous years.

Mr Pierre said The Galleon would run monthly charity nights for the hospice in the hope of raising the money the Jazz and Blues Festival would have brought in.

A Blackpool Council spokesman said: “Blackpool Council’s VisitBlackpool team has helped promote the 2019 Jazz and Blues Weekend and as with previous years invited the organiser to provide material to us that we could share though our various publicity channels.

“Details of the weekend were included on the VisitBlackpool website which has 1.5m visitors a year.

"In addition, it was listed in our 2019 Blackpool Events Guide which has a 40,000 print run and is distributed throughout the resort, used at specific travel and tourism exhibitions, as well as being given to hoteliers at the recent season launch.”