Bellingen festival cancelled

ONE of the region’s signature events, the Bellingen Jazz and Blues Festival, will not be going ahead this year.

Festival president Jonothon Deans said none of the committee had been happy to make the tough decision to end the 21-year tradition but it was generally agreed that a music festival without a musical director would be a recipe for disaster.

“Although the committee plays an important role in making the festival happen, it is the director who pulls the strings,” he said.

“It is a demanding voluntary job that each year takes up at least some time every day, every week, with the groundwork starting in January.”

Musical director for the past four years, Roger Burke, said the position required a thorough knowledge of the jazz music scene, including contacts with musicians, young and old.

“It is a difficult role – you are trying to get a good balance in the program between well-known and new talent plus you might be rung up at the last minute to find, for example, a bass player for a band,” Mr Burke said.

Mr Deans said there would still be some jazz event happening on the traditional third weekend in August ... probably a major concert on Saturday, August 20.

“We need to keep that weekend in people’s minds and also keep our committee focused.”

He said festival finances were healthy following a modest profit from last year’s festival.

“We don’t want to squander that – we’ll look after it and look forward to returning in 2012, hopefully with additional input from new committee members.”

The festival committee meets on the first Monday of each month in the office above the Bellingen Memorial Hall foyer. Everyone is welcome.

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