JVC Exits JazzFests

Citing changes in the marketplace, JVC says it will not sponsor any jazz festivals this year, ending a relationship with promoters and fans that goes back to 1984 when the consumer electronics company sponsored its first JVC Jazz Festival in New York City.

JVC U.S.A. spokesman Terry Shea explained in a statement why the company was changing its jazz-sponsoring ways.

“JVC is proud of its association with the Jazz Festivals, but the marketplace in which JVC competes today has changed dramatically, and so JVC has chosen to take our promotional activities in a different direction, and one that will no longer include jazz event sponsorship.”

Jazz promoter George Wein, the man who negotiated the original JVC sponsorship for Jazz Festival in New York, called the company “the best sponsor anybody ever had.”

Wein used to run Festival Productions, which promoted several jazz events including JVC-sponsored festivals in Newport, Rhode Island and New York. Wein sold his company, including the JVC events, to Festival Network in 2007.

Although Festival Network kept Wein on as a consultant, he eventually stopped working for the company. Furthermore, late payments by Festival Network caused Rhode Island’s Department of Environmental Management to cancel contracts it had with the company to present the Newport Jazz and Newport Folk festivals, leading Wein to put up his own money to produce the festivals this summer.

There’s an added incentive for Wein to keep the Newport Jazz Festival going: Newport was the location of the first jazz festival ever held in the United States. It took place in 1954 and Wein was the event’s promoter.

Although Wein’ss promoting three concerts at Carnegie Hall during June – the same month the JVC New York Jazz Festival usually took place – and he has already reserved the building for June 2010 for when he plans on putting on a full-fledged festival, the promoter said jazz in New York isn’t that special anymore.

For starters, New York still has a jazz festival scheduled for June. Compared with the JVC-sponsored event, the Vision Festival XIV, which takes place at an arts center on the Lower East Side, is a bit smaller and more avant-garde.

Plus, there are dozens of jazz events occurring weekly in NYC. So many, according to Wein, that he didn’t feel a need to hold a festival in the city. At least, not this year.