People leaving the Wellington Opera House after a Jazz Festival show last year.
Building on the Festival’s long history in Wellington’s event calendar, in June 2013 the Wellington Jazz Festival reinvented itself as a boutique mid-winter weekend event. The Festival focused on securing top international stars, while also showcasing exceptional local talent at free gigs in bars, restaurants and clubs across the capital’s Cuba Quarter. The recipe proved popular with the 11,000 attendees and with the city businesses who hosted events – with 91% of venues surveyed in favour of seeing the jazz festival go annual.
Grammy Award-winning headliners Chucho Valdes and Cassandra Wilson brought music-lovers into the capital from across New Zealand and played to packed houses, with 25% of ticket-buying audiences to the Festival coming from outside the Wellington region. Across the Cuba Quarter, bars came alive with music played by talented Kiwis and overseas artists, with a total of 58 events held in 21 venues, as well as pop-up street performances.
Mayor Celia Wade-Brown, a trustee for the Wellington Jazz and Music Festival Trust, said: “Mid-winter will be a lot hotter with the return of the Wellington Jazz Festival. The Wellington City Council’s continuing support for the breadth of arts in the capital keeps the buzz alive all year round.
“Our support is targeted at developing this significant event during winter to attract visitors to the city, and delight residents. Our compact, cosmopolitan capital will take on a real Latin flavour,” she added.
For 2014, the Festival has forged new relationships with the Embassies of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Cuba and Mexico – so audiences can expect a Latin flavour to the 2014 event, says Wellington Jazz Festival Artistic Director Shelagh Magadza: “Our vision for this year’s Festival is that Latin American culture will meet the urban soul of Aotearoa. As well as bringing jazz, swing and Latin music to audiences at major venues like the Opera House; bars, restaurants, venues, businesses and the street will all come into the mix – it’s going to be a great party and we hope to see everyone there”.
Working in partnership with the iconic Melbourne International Jazz Festival, the Festival has already secured a major Grammy Award-winning act to headline the event – though details of the line-up won’t be announced until 24 March.
“We can’t say more just yet, but jazz and music fans should block out the dates in their diary – we’re confident we have a line-up to excite and know that Wellington provides a perfect Festival setting,” said Magadza.
Wellington Jazz and Music Festival Trust Executive Chair Kerry Prendergast said, “We are thrilled to bring great music to New Zealand audiences and business to Wellington’s hospitality and retail sector. This is a fantastic annual addition to the capital’s event calendar and a big vote of confidence, not only for the Festival, but for the quite extraordinary wealth of talented artists we have here in Wellington who see the Festival as a much needed platform to get their music out to a wider audience”.