February 2, 2023

Taylor Daily Press

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The Gent Jazz organization has been declared bankrupt

The Gent Jazz organization has been declared bankrupt

The curtain falls on Gent Jazz: This week the non-profit organization behind Gent Jazz was declared bankrupt. And the corona crisis, Jabal Al-Din and the absent Sting gave the popular festival a fatal blow. The future of Jazz Middelheim is also very uncertain.

On Tuesday, the corporate court declared the non-profit association “Jazz On Music” bankrupt. This is the organization that organizes the annual Gent Jazz Festival and Jazz Middelheim. “The game has gone bankrupt,” says Diederik Vernemen, chairman of the federation’s board of directors. “I cannot and will not say more than that until I can speak to the newly appointed coordinator.”

Bertrand Flamange, who has been the driving force and face of Gent Jazz for twenty years, certainly doesn’t care. Perhaps his disappearance from the board a few months ago was the writing on the wall.

Debts

Buena Vista Social Club, Toots Thielemans, BB King, Chick Corea, Grace Jones, Van Morrison, Herbie Hancock, Bryan Ferry, Lady Gaga … The list of world-famous artists who have visited Ghent in the past 20 years thanks to Gent Jazz is long and impressive.

But Gent Jazz has been experiencing severe weather for several years now. Corona crisis for two years and distress with Sting pass, who canceled twice, cut it off. Sting tickets had to be refunded, the first time due to Corona and the second time due to illness.

In the vicinity of the organization, he heard that the debt pit had become very deep, there would be 700,000 euros. “There was also another loan of the same size,” says one of those close to the file.

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successor

The city of Ghent was declared bankrupt by the non-profit organization’s board of directors on Thursday. After all, Ghent puts in 260,000 euros in subsidies to the festival every year. “This means a great loss of the cultural prestige of our city,” says Sami Seghir (Open VLD), a member of a local council for culture.

As a result, the non-profit association Jazz en Muziek received guarantees of support until 2024. But now that the non-profit organization is bankrupt and the amount has been released, Sgir is already looking for a successor, at least if the amount remains in the budget until 2025.

Jazz Middleheim

Bankruptcy Not only is Gent Jazz’s sad final deal, but also the future of that other festival organized by the non-profit association, Jazz Middelheim in Antwerp, now seems highly uncertain.

In June it was also announced that the non-profit organization Jazz n’ Music would have to forgo Flemish support of €300,000 for five years. From the 41st edition of Jazz Middelheim, last summer, the second leg at Castle Den Brandt was canceled at the last minute. With someone as extraordinary as Iggy Pop, 15,000 spectators visited the festival over four days. At Jazz Middelheim’s peak, easily twice as many people attended.

The city of Antwerp gives the festival a grant of 250,000 euros annually. “This news is not entirely unexpected, because we knew that jazz and music have already gone through a few difficult years,” answers Antwerp Culture Council member Nabila Ait Daoud. “We are doing everything we can to keep alive Jazz Middelheim, an iconic festival in Antwerp and a fixture in the city’s musical calendar. Together with the other parties involved – VRT, the Flemish government and the values ​​– the city will see how things can move forward.

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The demise of the non-profit Jazz N’ Music Association does not necessarily have to lead to the disappearance of Jazz Middleheim. The fact that the festival’s license is held by VRT makes a point. Especially since both the public broadcaster and the city of Antwerp benefit from maintaining such an international and prestigious festival. For stakeholders, now is the time to look for a new regulator or organizational form. It has already been announced on the Jazz Middelheim website that the 2023 edition will take place from August 12-15, but we can already draw a line because of this date.