Jazz Fest plans to return July 30 at RIT, pending guidelines | WHEC.com

Jazz Fest plans to return July 30 at RIT, pending guidelines

Updated: February 11, 2021 11:21 PM
Created: February 11, 2021 10:25 AM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Organizers for the CGI Rochester International Jazz Festival plan to hold the popular festival from July 30 to Aug. 7 at the Rochester Institute of Technology, the group announced Thursday.

In a release, producers Marc Iacona and John Nugent say the move is dependent on state health guidelines being favorable for travel and large gatherings, and a decision to move forward will be made in spring. 

Traditionally, the festival, which turns 19 this year, has been held in downtown Rochester in mid-June. Last year, like many festivals, organizers initially postponed the event with the hopes of holding it in the fall, but, eventually made the decision to cancel the event.

In the release, the duo says the move to RIT  will allow organizers more flexibility to accommodate health guidelines that could dictate the spacing of the audience. They said moving the date will allow for more people to be vaccinated and give the festival "optimal" use of RIT’s space since it will be in-between semesters.

If the green light is given, organizers say the lineup will be finalized and announced in spring. As previously announced, the festival will honor agreements with as many artists as possible who were originally booked last year.

Additionally, people with a club pass will be able to use those passes this year, or, until 2023. The previous two headliners: Spyro Gyra and Puss N Boots, will be canceled and refunds will be provided to all ticketholders.

Living in a world hampered by the pandemic, businesses along East Avenue say, they're sad to see the festival move but they weren't surprised by the news. 

"Nobody was counting on it this year, so if they can hold it at RIT in Henrietta and be successful then great,” Michael O’Leary, the owner of Temple Bar and Grille, said.

Last year, the city approved $243,000 dollars in funding for the 2020 festival. With it now being outside city limits the city says it will not be providing any funding for 2021.

In a statement Thursday to News10NBC a Rochester city spokesperson said "The city was unaware until this morning of the decision. However, we look forward to working with organizers of the jazz festival to return this important event to our downtown next year." 

The relocation is an economic blow to the east end community, particularly bars and restaurants like Temple Bar and Grille, that serve as venues for the event that usually attracts more than 200,000 people. 

"As much as you might count on additional revenue from any festival, it’s more important that you get exposed to people that come in so hopefully they come back,” O’Leary said.

Sam Snyder, a manager at Bernunzio Uptown Music shop says he’s been with the business for years and while they too would miss out on hefty revenue, it's more about the community and what this festival creates.

"Free shows are helpful in getting people into music which is cool because then it kind of helps perpetuate the smaller groups that play throughout the year here which is something I feel is missed often,” Snyder said. 

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