ORCHARD ENDS INVOLVEMENT WITH BRECON JAZZ

The Orchard Media and Events Group, the operator of the Brecon Jazz festival since 2012, has announced it is calling time on its running of the famous mid Wales event, based on financial considerations.

Orchard was appointed to run the festival by the Arts Council of Wales, since when the former UK Regional Promoter of the Year has brought a galaxy of global stars to Brecon, such as Dionne Warwick, Burt Bacharach, Gregory Porter, Laura Mvula, and Jools Holland in four successful editions of the festival.

Orchard director Pablo Janczur said: “It’s unfortunate that we have to end Orchard’s involvement in Brecon Jazz as we’ve had a great four years and attracted some glowing accolades for our work on the festival. But the reality is that despite great support from the Arts Council of Wales, Welsh and local government, Orchard as a business has effectively subsidised the event on an annual basis since 2012, and we are not prepared to sustain that any longer. I think we gave it a really good shot, and I genuinely hope someone out there can take it on, because it has a great reputation internationally, provides a terrific platform for Welsh Jazz talent, and is a real boost to the mid Wales economy.”

Reviews of Brecon Jazz 2015 were glowing, with prestigious Jazz media JazzWise saying: “Brecon stands apart from other UK jazz festivals”, and Jazz Journal offering this on the festival’s ”high quality programme”: “It is a pleasure to report that Orchard promoters have this important festival back on track after a few difficult years. The emphasis again is on attractions with strong appeal to jazz fans.”

Research from UK Music recently showed that music tourism provides a £95m injection into the Welsh economy each year, and Orchard’s own market research has revealed an income of some £1m to the local Brecon economy as a result of this landmark Welsh event which last year marked its 30th anniversary.

Orchard attracted sponsors like Grolsch, and set up a Sponsor Club which was well supported by local businesses. Pablo again: “People see many thousands of visitors on Brecon’s streets and the pub tills ringing on festival weekend each year and think the event is in rude health. But the reality is they are not swelling the festival coffers, even though we bear a lot of their costs. To bring in the big names that Jazz lovers desire, relies on ticket sales, and the Brecon venues are just not set up to enable enough of those sales to happen. Despite the valued public sector support we have received from the start, Orchard has not been able to take a management fee each year, and so we have effectively subsidised the event for four years. As Wales’ leading independent promoter and communications group, we simply can’t sustain those losses.”

The event has been supported by the Arts Council of Wales, Welsh Government through its major event strategy, and local authorities.

In addition to Brecon Jazz, Orchard has been recognised as Regional Promoter of the Year in the UK Live Music Awards, and promotes over 200 concerts a year, mainly in Wales, including the likes of Sir Elton John, Sir Tom Jones, Paolo Nutini, Kings of Leon, Jessie J and Paul Weller in the past year alone. Orchard is this year’s SME of the Year in the Cardiff Business Awards.