Last Friday was International Jazz Day, and we had imagined this day to be slightly different. After the cancellation of Sting and Herbie Hancock, and given the current circumstances, we knew that Gent Jazz would also be different this year. Obviously. But like many other festivals and artists, we had hoped to still be able to organize a worthwhile edition this summer – corona-proof. With all the knowledge and expertise accumulated over the past year, and with a vaccination program in full swing, this would have been perfectly possible.
However, on April 23, the Belgian government postponed a decision on the matter once again – forcing us to shelve our ambitious but safe plans and cancel Gent Jazz 2021. With great sadness, because we know that a lot of Belgian (jazz) artists were looking forward to this summer, and we also believe that many of our visitors could use a musical kick by now too.
We understand that a decision about festivals in July may still be forthcoming on May 11, but for Gent Jazz, that decision will come too late. Mind you, that doesn't mean we don't still have the ambition and the desire to set up an alternative this summer (on the same days as Gent Jazz)! What that will look like? We don't know yet, but it will be as big as – we impatiently await the guidelines – possible!
It just won’t be Gent Jazz. And this time around, on May 11, an actual decision will have to be made. In the interest of the festivals, the musicians, the suppliers, and the safety of the visitors. If the government wants professional events, it needs to let the music industry work professionally. And it needs to treat it professionally.
In the meantime, we have already started talks with this year’s headliners, so that the line-up of Gent Jazz in 2022 will look as spectacular as this year’s. Because make no mistake about it: Gent Jazz is making a comeback – harder, better, faster, stronger than vinyl! Sting was the first to announce his return – he already had some experience in that department – and a host of names will be added in the months to come.
Anyone who bought a ticket for Gent Jazz this summer will be contacted personally in the coming weeks. Good to know: State Secretary for Consumer Protection Eva De Bleeker decided this week that all festival and concert vouchers will remain valid until the summer of 2023.