While most UK arts organisations were struggling to survive in the pandemic and dependent on Arts Council Grants,  Guildford Jazz’s Summer of Jazz programme played to a combined audience of over 1600 people and netted nearly £27,000 for local charities!

Undaunted by the Jazz Festival’s cancellation in March 2020, Guildford Jazz put together a programme this Summer featuring many of the artists who were due to play at the original Festival as well as a host of new artists and events. Consisting of socially distanced indoor gigs and 5 outdoor events the programme included top UK jazz names such as Dennis Rollins, Alan Barnes, Mark Nightingale, Clark Tracey, Sarah Dowling and Derek Nash.

The programme was primarily funded by ticket sales but also made possible by the generosity of the original March 2020 sponsors (BDO, Stevens & Bolton, Guildford Lottery and Peter Cluff)  and advertisers who allowed their sponsorship and advertising to be rolled forward to the Summer of Jazz.

The Summer of Jazz altogether raised nearly £27,000 from ticket sales for 4 local charities:

  • Challengers – providing exciting and inclusive play & leisure activities for local disabled children and young people in Surrey and the South-East.
  • The Cheryl King Trust – providing music bursaries for local financially disadvantaged children and young people
  • Guildford Philanthropy – transforming the lives of the less fortunate through social enterprise, carer and charity support
  • GUTS – aiming to improve bowel cancer survival

Triumph in the Face of the Pandemic 

The Summer of Jazz was the most recent but not the first example of how Guildford Jazz has bucked the trend in the UK arts scene and excelled during difficult times by :

  • Continuing to put on safe socially distanced gigs throughout the pandemic across a period when many leading jazz musicians did not play in public for over a year;
  • Launching and leading a highly successful series of live streamed gigs to a total audience of over 2000 people through a joint venture with the boileroom and a number of other jazz clubs;
  • Continuing with live gigs whenever regulations permitted, managing to meet social distancing rules without losing money by running shorter back-to-back sets with smaller but still viable audiences; and
  • Avoiding any significant financial hit from the cancellation of the festival while still offering full refunds to everyone who had bought tickets for the original festival
  • Raising an additional £2,600 through an appeal to help jazz musicians whose gigs had to be cancelled because of the lockdown.

Looking Ahead : Autumn Leaves

Guildford Jazz plans a full live programme for this Autumn, presenting two gigs a month at its  central Guildford home at the Guildford Pavilion in Woodbridge Road and a number of other venues in and around Guildford. As usual the artists appearing comprise exclusively leading names on the British jazz scene including Tim Garland, Jason Rebello, Art Themen, Polly Gibbons, Gabriel Latchin, Georgia Mancio, Nicolas Meier and Alison Rayner. More details of the Autumn Programme and how to book tickets can be found at www.guildfordjazz.org.uk.