Photo Credit: Jane Davey
Niagara Jazz Fest is making a slow, careful return to live events, while continuing to bring audiences online content.
Niagara Jazz Fest has adapted to the COVID-19 restrictions to do their part to ensure the safety of participants and musicians.
“While in ‘lockdown’ we are (and have been) keeping the music alive by doing livestreamed events that are watched by people from home on Facebook Live and YouTube,” said Juliet Dunn, Executive Director and Artistic Producer of Niagara Jazz Fest. “We have some funding from our government grants [such as] Ontario Creates, Celebrate Ontario, City of St. Catharines, Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake and the Niagara Community Foundation, to do these things so that we can create a few gigs for musicians while we’re still all in lockdown or partial lockdown!”
One of the components of Niagara Jazz Fest that underwent rebranding and reorganization in order to adhere to the physical distancing mandates in Niagara was the ‘In Your Own Backyard Series.’
“We transformed our ‘In Your Own Backyard Series,’ the intimate series we’ve been doing on our property at our Studio for 40 guests max and have now rebranded it into our LIVEStream.LOVE.JAZZ.Series. We have presented and produced over 40 shows in this series and we have introduced our LIVEStream.LOVE.WORLD.Series and are presenting number seven [the seventh performance] on September 20 with Badié, live from Paris, France!” said Dunn.
Niagara Jazz Fest has taken on the slogan ‘It’s virtually possible!’ to sum up their commitment to bringing viewers online content and making musical performances possible amid the pandemic.
“Livestreaming is the perfect platform for this. We now present our livestreamed events in an interview style and due to advanced technology we can present artists from all over the world. So far we have done Holland, Israel, France, Toronto, Hamilton, Niagara, Vancouver, Ottawa, Montreal, Edmonton and Calgary. As long as the artist we are presenting has a solid connection we can bring them in from anywhere in the world! It’s virtually possible!” said Dunn.
In addition to international and far from home performances, Niagara Jazz Fest stays true to its roots by also engaging with the local community.
“We also bring in local sponsors and partners for each show, which is a great way to keep our community connected,” said Dunn.
Audiences have been impressed with the virtual experiences at Niagara Jazz Fest.
“It’s definitely not as good as the ‘real thing’ but better than no music at all. A world without music would be a very strange and empty, world indeed! Using the platform that we use to livestream [Streamyard] gives the audience the opportunity to leave comments in real time which makes the experience very interactive for the musicians and all who are watching. Many have messaged us to let us know that they do date nights, dinners and watch parties geared around our livestreamed events,” said Dunn.
While their online events have been a hit, Niagara Jazz Fest is also beginning to bring back in-person events.
The Hungry 4 Hammond Series mark’s TD Jazz Fest’s return to live, in-person events. Part 1 kicked off on September 12 and approximately 40 people were able to attend in the private, physically-distanced setting. Part 2 of the Hungry 4 Hammond series will also be an in-person event.