Pontypool Jazz Festival cancelled

ALL THAT JAZZ: Jazz singer Ben Jenkins with the band The Good Life performing at the Pontypool Jazz Festival two years ago

PERFORMING: The Greater Gwent Big Youth Band at the festival in 2010 Cancellation of jazz festival strikes wrong note for fans

First published in News

THOUSANDS of music lovers will be left disappointed this year as the ever-popular Pontypool Jazz Festival has been cancelled due to a lack of funding.

After 13 successful years since its launch in 1999, Torfaen Council have announced they cannot afford to host the event this year.

The festival usually takes place on the first weekend in September and attracts visitors from across the borough and beyond including visitors from Pontypool’s twin town Longjumeau in France. As well as attracting a host of established acts the festival allowed young local musicians to showcase their talent.

Gary Stone of Pontypool Jazz, a group formed in 2008 to promote jazz and live music in Pontypool, said: “Pontypool Jazz Festival is a wonderful event which everyone in Pontypool and the surrounding areas looks forward to each year and enjoys. I can’t understand why the council couldn’t come up with the funding. Hopefully it will be able to carry on next year.”

Leader of Pontypool Community Council Cllr Dave Leek said: “I am very disappointed that Pontypool Jazz has been cancelled, every effort should have been made to at least have a smaller event to try to keep it going. When an event is cancelled altogether it is that much harder to rejuvenate it. Torfaen County Borough Council had not approached the Community Council directly or via the Jazz organising committee and we may have been able to offer some additional funding.”

A spokesman for Torfaen council said: “We are disappointed to have taken the difficult decision to cancel this year’s Pontypool Jazz Festival, however it is one of the many tough choices that local authorities are having to make during this current economic climate.

“We are keen to see the festival return next year, so officers are starting the process of reviewing the situation and the way the event is staged.”

Support goes on for the big event

DEPUTY head of service for Gwent Music Support Service Paul Hornsby said: “The Greater Gwent Youth Jazz Orchestra have performed at this fantastic festival every year. The festival has always been very well organised and has given audiences the opportunity to hear interesting and diverse programming from both local and international artists and ensembles.

“It had become an important and prestigious event on the local and national calendar. It has done a great deal to raise not only Torfaen’s profile but also that of South Wales.

“I genuinely hope the Pontypool Jazz Festival can somehow be reinstated.”

Comments (9)

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1:11pm Wed 15 Aug 12

Cwmderi says...

It does not appear that Torfaen Council has even made the effort to seek out additional or alternative funding for this great annual event. If they have not even bothered to approach Pontypool Town Council for assistance, then it appears they want this attraction to fail.
It takes treble the effort and organisation to re-start any event after it loses its annual impact, so come on Mr Wellington, if you are genuine about the regeneration of Pontypool, then funding of this event is a drop in the ocean of your coffers,
The town is losing the status of its famous rugby team and on top of that this great event is being tossed to one side.
I wonder if the council wants Pontypool open for business or are they simply acting as mourners at the wake of the town?
It does not appear that Torfaen Council has even made the effort to seek out additional or alternative funding for this great annual event. If they have not even bothered to approach Pontypool Town Council for assistance, then it appears they want this attraction to fail. It takes treble the effort and organisation to re-start any event after it loses its annual impact, so come on Mr Wellington, if you are genuine about the regeneration of Pontypool, then funding of this event is a drop in the ocean of your coffers, The town is losing the status of its famous rugby team and on top of that this great event is being tossed to one side. I wonder if the council wants Pontypool open for business or are they simply acting as mourners at the wake of the town? Cwmderi
  • Score: 0

2:30pm Wed 15 Aug 12

Man of Ponty says...

To look at this in a postive way, it could be a chance to develop a new festival with a more diverse range of music, something for everyone rather than just jazz fans.
To look at this in a postive way, it could be a chance to develop a new festival with a more diverse range of music, something for everyone rather than just jazz fans. Man of Ponty
  • Score: 0

5:24pm Wed 15 Aug 12

Uomo senza nome says...

Man of Ponty wrote:
To look at this in a postive way, it could be a chance to develop a new festival with a more diverse range of music, something for everyone rather than just jazz fans.
You don't get much Jazz at jazz festivals these days. Take Brecon Jazz last weekend, only a few Jazz names on the bill...mostly blues / pop music........no wonder the event is dying. There were more cars than people on the streets of Brecon @ 7pm last Sunday....shame really but that event also seems doomed to fail from appalling management.
[quote][p][bold]Man of Ponty[/bold] wrote: To look at this in a postive way, it could be a chance to develop a new festival with a more diverse range of music, something for everyone rather than just jazz fans.[/p][/quote]You don't get much Jazz at jazz festivals these days. Take Brecon Jazz last weekend, only a few Jazz names on the bill...mostly blues / pop music........no wonder the event is dying. There were more cars than people on the streets of Brecon @ 7pm last Sunday....shame really but that event also seems doomed to fail from appalling management. Uomo senza nome
  • Score: 0

2:50pm Thu 16 Aug 12

jarrett-journo says...

Nigel Jarrett says...
Strange for an ex-newspaperman, but I sympathise with Torfaen council on this one. As the Argus music critic and a freelance writer for Jazz Journal, I'm well aware that without taxpayers' money, many of these events wouldn't exist. Jazz is curious in being something everyone in the world knows about but only a minority actively support. A few years ago, I was one of five people listening to the wondrous saxophonist Don Rendell at the Bass Clef club in London. (Another of the five was playwright Willy Russell. There's namedropping for you!). For these reasons, private sponsorship for jazz festivals is hard to come by. Many of those willing to sponsor believe jazz means Kenny Ball and Glenn Miller, and want some populist slant to anything they support. Jazz fans themselves are a strange component of this funding crisis, too. Many of them are content to listen to their record collection instead of getting off their bums and buying tickets for live events. I'm often one of them, though I usually have my excuses, the main one being that if I attended everything I'd be out every night and heading for the divorce court. Let's bide our time. Pontypool Jazz will be back, just as the currently struggling Brecon Jazz Festival will return to something resembling its international status. These are hard times; jazz lovers can't be exempt from the pain.
Nigel Jarrett says... Strange for an ex-newspaperman, but I sympathise with Torfaen council on this one. As the Argus music critic and a freelance writer for Jazz Journal, I'm well aware that without taxpayers' money, many of these events wouldn't exist. Jazz is curious in being something everyone in the world knows about but only a minority actively support. A few years ago, I was one of five people listening to the wondrous saxophonist Don Rendell at the Bass Clef club in London. (Another of the five was playwright Willy Russell. There's namedropping for you!). For these reasons, private sponsorship for jazz festivals is hard to come by. Many of those willing to sponsor believe jazz means Kenny Ball and Glenn Miller, and want some populist slant to anything they support. Jazz fans themselves are a strange component of this funding crisis, too. Many of them are content to listen to their record collection instead of getting off their bums and buying tickets for live events. I'm often one of them, though I usually have my excuses, the main one being that if I attended everything I'd be out every night and heading for the divorce court. Let's bide our time. Pontypool Jazz will be back, just as the currently struggling Brecon Jazz Festival will return to something resembling its international status. These are hard times; jazz lovers can't be exempt from the pain. jarrett-journo
  • Score: 0

2:54pm Thu 16 Aug 12

Boris Johnson says...

The truth is the Torfaen Jazz Society offered Peter Durkin, the 'Arts Development Dept' at TCBC and the festival committee Chair an alternative as we had been told in June that this year's festival was dead. We offered a 2 day FREE music weekend in September at Panteg House at a cost of £3k. We never received a reply from Mr Durkin but were told by TCBC that even £3k is out of the question. As an ex but founding member of the festival committee, the whole shabby episode is deeply depressing. However low expectations might, TCBC always go one better.
The truth is the Torfaen Jazz Society offered Peter Durkin, the 'Arts Development Dept' at TCBC and the festival committee Chair an alternative as we had been told in June that this year's festival was dead. We offered a 2 day FREE music weekend in September at Panteg House at a cost of £3k. We never received a reply from Mr Durkin but were told by TCBC that even £3k is out of the question. As an ex but founding member of the festival committee, the whole shabby episode is deeply depressing. However low expectations might, TCBC always go one better. Boris Johnson
  • Score: 0

3:34pm Thu 16 Aug 12

Boris Johnson says...

Nigel, money is the problem now but need not have been. Poor management is the issue. TCBC could not understand that, in a town like Pontypool, the average family are not going to 'risk' ticket money on jazz. However, if the event is free (as it used to be) they will spend what money thay have ear-marked for their enjoyment at the festival. Good management, sponsorship and a firm grip on costs would have made money less important. Money has always been too central to everyone's thinking in recent years. A musician on the festival committee may have helped; more councillor input and less control from career minded officers would have helped too but more passion and committment, shown by the likes of Tom Williams, is essential. Instead we are left with excuses for mediocrity while being expected to believe that TCBC couldn't find even a paltry £3k.Tosh!
Nigel, money is the problem now but need not have been. Poor management is the issue. TCBC could not understand that, in a town like Pontypool, the average family are not going to 'risk' ticket money on jazz. However, if the event is free (as it used to be) they will spend what money thay have ear-marked for their enjoyment at the festival. Good management, sponsorship and a firm grip on costs would have made money less important. Money has always been too central to everyone's thinking in recent years. A musician on the festival committee may have helped; more councillor input and less control from career minded officers would have helped too but more passion and committment, shown by the likes of Tom Williams, is essential. Instead we are left with excuses for mediocrity while being expected to believe that TCBC couldn't find even a paltry £3k.Tosh! Boris Johnson
  • Score: 0

7:09pm Thu 16 Aug 12

Uomo senza nome says...

Well said Boris. I believe there is a similar problem with Brecon. The free street entertainment was the core of it's popularity. People who did not have the money to spend on "Big name" concerts, would bring the family and spend a few quid here and there. I was dismayed to see so large a contingent of retired middle class people at Brecon this year. Few youngsters or families with push chairs, dogs etc. Jed started Brecon Jazz because he loved the music, now it's all about MONEY.......
Well said Boris. I believe there is a similar problem with Brecon. The free street entertainment was the core of it's popularity. People who did not have the money to spend on "Big name" concerts, would bring the family and spend a few quid here and there. I was dismayed to see so large a contingent of retired middle class people at Brecon this year. Few youngsters or families with push chairs, dogs etc. Jed started Brecon Jazz because he loved the music, now it's all about MONEY....... Uomo senza nome
  • Score: 0

8:23am Sun 26 Aug 12

Blaen Bran man says...

It's a shame this has been cancelled my fear is that now it has stopped it will never restart. It was a great event at the beginning and all credit for TCBC in getting behind it however, it was essential that performers and people with experience of running these events from outside of the counsel were properly consulted to ensure success and future viability. This cancellation is a great shame, but let's hope it gets picked up next year. I end by saying that a man with the experience of Tom Williams would have made it work.
It's a shame this has been cancelled my fear is that now it has stopped it will never restart. It was a great event at the beginning and all credit for TCBC in getting behind it however, it was essential that performers and people with experience of running these events from outside of the counsel were properly consulted to ensure success and future viability. This cancellation is a great shame, but let's hope it gets picked up next year. I end by saying that a man with the experience of Tom Williams would have made it work. Blaen Bran man
  • Score: 0

2:59pm Sun 26 Aug 12

jarrett-journo says...

Nigel Jarrett takes a break from listening to ‘The Best Of Bix’ to write…

There’s a lot in what Boris and Uomo senza nome (call me ‘Mo’) say, but there’s also a lot of misconception flying around about Pontypool, Brecon and jazz festivals in general. Free street entertainment would always have been a feature of Brecon had it not been regularly hi-jacked by local mentalists who looked at you glassy-eyed after just a gulp of Old Peculiar. Jazz, like strong drink, they did not do. I remember leading a few of the youngsters deemed necessary for ensuring the future of jazz audiences through a Saturday-night miasma in Brecon that resembled something from a Hogarth cartoon except that when not remaining prostrate the bodies rose up and ran at you for disturbing their cider-fuelled peace. Unseemly. It wasn’t jazz’s fault but jazz was tainted by association. Jed Williams just shrugged when I told him that unless something were done to herd these unspectacular lushes off the broadwalk, the police would move in. They did, with catastrophic results. Jed was a one-off. I cannot go into the financial machinations that led to Brecon’s international status; suffice to say that the festival inevitably ran aground and had to be rescued by that herald of sobriety, the Hay Festival, which made a fist of giving it the dignity, if not the riotous colour, it once possessed. Before the Hay people moved in, what was going on while doe-eyed jazz buffs were dreamily listening to big stars from America was a fiscal disaster waiting to happen.
Good management at Pontypool? I thought the festival was well run, all things considered. Sponsorship and ‘a firm grip’ on management? ‘Firm grip’ usually means prudence and without risk-taking you won’t attract anyone of note; sponsorship is spoken of as though it’s out there waiting to be lavished on events that attract just a few stragglers.
As for the middle-aged (and the elderly, as it happens), without them jazz festivals would be dead in the water. The young today are not real, they’re virtual. To most of them outside London, jazz is the music of bearded fogeys; and young jazz musicians just incomprehensible and peculiar fogeys-in-waiting.
I’m insanely devoted to jazz but I know it’ll always be a minority culture, one predicated mostly on the past. Meaningful sponsors (the ones who’ve heard of Von Freeman) don’t expect to make a return on their investment; they hope to attract a musician they’ll otherwise not be able to see live. If it’s Herbie Hancock, droves will gather; if it’s Siobhan Lamb, there might be forty others, if that. You’ve all heard of Freeman and Lamb, of course. Last year I attended a couple of Pontypool events where I was one of eight in the audience, six after the interval. There must have been other gigs like it in addition to those reasonably well-supported. There’s just no accounting for jazz fans and what they want. Every one’s an expert. Every one could run Brecon and Pontypool. Let them try. I’ll wager they’ll be vilified, disenchanted and broke in two years.
Ronnie Scott had the fans summed up - they’re dead people smoking beyond the bandstand. Jazz is really a concatenation of illustrious musicians with the garrulously comatose in tow. It takes a brave woman, or man, to whip them into festival shape. Until the ‘fans’put their own house in order, local authorities, with other more urgent priorities, are not going to bend at all, let alone over backwards.
Nigel Jarrett takes a break from listening to ‘The Best Of Bix’ to write… There’s a lot in what Boris and Uomo senza nome (call me ‘Mo’) say, but there’s also a lot of misconception flying around about Pontypool, Brecon and jazz festivals in general. Free street entertainment would always have been a feature of Brecon had it not been regularly hi-jacked by local mentalists who looked at you glassy-eyed after just a gulp of Old Peculiar. Jazz, like strong drink, they did not do. I remember leading a few of the youngsters deemed necessary for ensuring the future of jazz audiences through a Saturday-night miasma in Brecon that resembled something from a Hogarth cartoon except that when not remaining prostrate the bodies rose up and ran at you for disturbing their cider-fuelled peace. Unseemly. It wasn’t jazz’s fault but jazz was tainted by association. Jed Williams just shrugged when I told him that unless something were done to herd these unspectacular lushes off the broadwalk, the police would move in. They did, with catastrophic results. Jed was a one-off. I cannot go into the financial machinations that led to Brecon’s international status; suffice to say that the festival inevitably ran aground and had to be rescued by that herald of sobriety, the Hay Festival, which made a fist of giving it the dignity, if not the riotous colour, it once possessed. Before the Hay people moved in, what was going on while doe-eyed jazz buffs were dreamily listening to big stars from America was a fiscal disaster waiting to happen. Good management at Pontypool? I thought the festival was well run, all things considered. Sponsorship and ‘a firm grip’ on management? ‘Firm grip’ usually means prudence and without risk-taking you won’t attract anyone of note; sponsorship is spoken of as though it’s out there waiting to be lavished on events that attract just a few stragglers. As for the middle-aged (and the elderly, as it happens), without them jazz festivals would be dead in the water. The young today are not real, they’re virtual. To most of them outside London, jazz is the music of bearded fogeys; and young jazz musicians just incomprehensible and peculiar fogeys-in-waiting. I’m insanely devoted to jazz but I know it’ll always be a minority culture, one predicated mostly on the past. Meaningful sponsors (the ones who’ve heard of Von Freeman) don’t expect to make a return on their investment; they hope to attract a musician they’ll otherwise not be able to see live. If it’s Herbie Hancock, droves will gather; if it’s Siobhan Lamb, there might be forty others, if that. You’ve all heard of Freeman and Lamb, of course. Last year I attended a couple of Pontypool events where I was one of eight in the audience, six after the interval. There must have been other gigs like it in addition to those reasonably well-supported. There’s just no accounting for jazz fans and what they want. Every one’s an expert. Every one could run Brecon and Pontypool. Let them try. I’ll wager they’ll be vilified, disenchanted and broke in two years. Ronnie Scott had the fans summed up - they’re dead people smoking beyond the bandstand. Jazz is really a concatenation of illustrious musicians with the garrulously comatose in tow. It takes a brave woman, or man, to whip them into festival shape. Until the ‘fans’put their own house in order, local authorities, with other more urgent priorities, are not going to bend at all, let alone over backwards. jarrett-journo
  • Score: 0

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