Jazz Festival 2019 all over Montreal – It was a special announcement for which journalists were literally summoned to a summit—the summit of the Mount Royal that is. Before the actual press conference, journalists and visitors to the Belvedere facing the Chalet were treated to a 30-minutes musical warm-up by the Urban Science Brass Band.
Then the announcement was made: starting next year when the Montreal International Jazz Festival will be presenting its 40th edition, the outdoor shows that traditionally have been taking place in the Quartier des spectacles, downtown, will be expanding to cover other neighbourhoods in the city. The Place des Arts area, will remain as the primary centre for the free shows, since it is the most accessible sector for tourists and the general public, however, residents in areas such as Verdun, Rosemont, Côte des Neiges, the Plateau, etc. will also have the chance to enjoy some of the shows. According to Jacques-André Dupont, CEO of the Festival, those new centres will be called “Hubs” and they “will be original, tailor-made experiences for the boroughs and their communities, in liaison with community organizations, merchants and citizens.”
This new, decentralized approach will require new economic efforts on the part of the Festival producers, who will be counting on the support of their corporate sponsors, which it seems, are going along with the idea. “As the Festival’s official presenter, we are thrilled with this innovative concept that will allow more Montrealers to gather around exciting shows,” said Sylvie Demers, speaking on behalf of the TD Bank Group. For her part, Gervais Jacques, from Rio Tinto Aluminum stated that “[we] are pleased to support this new initiative to reach out more to local communities and promote arts and culture.”
Mayor Valerie Plante was also very excited about this Festival expansion into other boroughs: “After contributing to the development of the Quartier des spectacles, this innovative, inspiring and inclusive Festival is bringing even more life to downtown Montreal and the many neighbourhoods where it unfolds.”
There is no doubt that this expansion into neighbourhoods that are sometimes neglected regarding cultural and festive activities, will be welcome. On the other hand, it remains to be seen how some issues that have been well-resolved in the current location at the Quartier des spectacles are going to be tackled in those multiple venues. Security is probably the most important of the non-artistic items that the organizers will have to think and plan for next year. A logistics problem will be that of the venues themselves, parks are the obvious choices to install the temporary stages for the concerts in the various boroughs, but aspects such as lighting, portable toilets for the public, and the cleaning of the locations should also be taken into consideration, adding to the cost of the event. However, it is an excellent initiative that should provide entertainment and even revitalize some sectors of the city, assuming, of course, that –as the organizers have pledged– the Festival will work in coordination with local community organizations, to avoid any conflict with local festivals or celebrations. The Jazz Festival will come to enrich the local cultural scene, not to supplant events already in place.
And for those who are anxious about this iconic summer event, yes, the Montreal International Jazz Festival is coming next week, from June 28 to July 7. For detailed information: www.montrealjazzfest.com
Feature image: The Urban Science Brass Band provided a musical warm-up before the big announcement