THE 25th Isle of Bute Jazz Festival takes place this weekend – and with the news that advance ticket sales for the silver jubilee event have exceeded the organisers’ estimates, hopes are high for a bumper few days and a significant boost to the island’s economy.
Festival committee chairman Tim Saul told The Buteman he was optimistic that overall attendances this year would be higher than in 2011, when the event was saved at short notice after local residents and businesses rallied round to plug a funding gap caused by the loss of key sponsorship income.
“Advance ticket sales have exceeded the estimates we made based on sales last year,” Mr Saul told The Buteman, “and while it’s always difficult to predict total sales before the event, if the portion of advance tickets as part of total sales is the same as last year we should see more people over the weekend.
“Many of our regular visitors booked very early for this year, and we sold a lot of advance tickets before Christmas, while there are a lot of new names cropping up on the ticket booking system.
“I also think the momentum we had in the community as a result of what happened last year has been carried through to 2012.”
This year has also seen the festival’s biggest ever spend on advertising, with more publicity targeted at specialist publications such as Just Jazz and Jazz Guide magazines, and 7,500 leaflets, order forms and posters distributed to more than five hundred key venues.
And while the days of high-profile visiting bands from overseas might have been put on hold for now, there’s still plenty of UK-based quality on show from artists such as Rose Room, TJ Johnson, Penman’s Jazzmen, the Chicago Teddy Bears Society Jazz Band, Bobby Wishart, Richard White’s Fivers and Fat Sam’s Band.
“Because of the difficult economic times we face, we’ve had to make some very difficult decisions with regard to choosing bands,” Mr Saul continued.
“While our continental visitors were very, very welcome, the cost of getting them here is now colossal, and we face a difficult balance between controlling our costs and having a high quality programme that people want to see.”
Full details of the bands on this year’s bill, along with a schedule of the weekend’s concerts, are available in the event’s official programme, on sale from the festival ticket office in Guildford Square, next to Toffo’s newsagent.