Fears Over Future of Ealing Jazz Festival
Petition gains momentum as fans react to news of cuts
More than a thousand people have already signed a petition to save the Ealing Jazz Festival after it was announced it's to be cut from five days to a weekend this year.
The Festival, traditionally the biggest event of the Summer, has been in existence for over 30 years. In its heyday, it ran for eight days with 34 concerts on the main stage. It was later outsourced and admission charges introduced. Now, Ealing Council says it has to make even more cuts but a council spokesperson denies it is the beginning of the end:
"Ealing Jazz Festival is not under threat and is still an important part of our summer programme. The council is being forced to significantly reduce the subsidy for the Ealing Summer Festival events from £122,000 to £72,000 across all the festivals.
'' Rather than compromise on quality; we have focussed the jazz programme to one weekend which has always proven the most popular, with 70% of visitors coming on those days last year. By doing this we are still able to offer visitors a great line up of musicians at this year's Jazz Festival and a full weekend of Blues in Walpole Park too."
Campaigners are devastated by the plans and furious that co-founder and Artistic Director, Dick Esmond, a stalwart of the Jazz Festival and involved in programming and compering over many years, is to be replaced.
Supporters have shown their anger in comments on the petition:
'' Pushing out Dick Esmond? He is the reason the Jazz festival is what it is. Are you serious Ealing council? Stop these changes and keep enjoying the success it has had from day one until now.'' (Oliver Gould)
''I have been attenting the Ealing Jazz Festival since it started. At one time it was renowned as the biggest free Jazz Festival in Europe. There have already been problems with the running of the festival since the management of it was taken over by a private contractor, please don't ruin it completely. Dick Esmond is an integral part of the festival. He started it after all and his skills have proved invaluable.'' (Vivien Boyes)
'' I can't believe this is even being considered! I have attended the jazz festival since the early days and it is an event Ealing should be really proud of rather than diminishing it. Two days is nothing like long enough to showcase all the local jazz talent, which draws people to Ealing from all over London and further afield.Dick Esmond has been a vital part of its success with his broad knowledge of local musicians. Please don't let this happen. Sign the petition!'' (Helen Johnson)
An Ealing Council spokesperson said: ''We recognise the fantastic contribution Mr Esmond has made to the Jazz Festival over the past 30 years. We are confident that we will be bringing a high quality production and line up to this year’s festival and hope that Dick will accept our invitation to headline the Sunday night performance.''
We have asked Ealing Council if any of the other Summer festivals will be affected and are awaiting response.
2nd February 2016