Wigan Jazz Festival under threat

Wigan Youth Jazz Orchestra with multi-instrumentalist James Morrison at a previous Wigan Jazz Festival

Wigan Youth Jazz Orchestra with multi-instrumentalist James Morrison at a previous Wigan Jazz Festival

Wigan’s jewel-in-the-crown international jazz festival could be axed if businesses don’t come to its rescue.

Bosses of the event, which is acclaimed all over the globe, are holding an urgent rallying event for sponsorship because it desperately needs supporters to back it financially.

This is very urgent. If Jools Holland’s show sells as well as he usually does we will be fine for this year and next year but after that it simply won’t be there without more sponsorship

Ian Darrington

In 32 years the world-renowned music bash has brought countless household names - including Jools Holland, who returns for another headlining show this summer - to the borough for sell-out concerts.

But organisers say the festival’s future beyond the 2018 event is far from sure. Many subsidies have fallen away over recent years and this has already led to the festival’s length being dramatically shortened.

Festival director Ian Darrington said: “This is very urgent. If Jools Holland’s show sells as well as he usually does we will be fine for this year and next year but after that it simply won’t be there without more sponsorship.

“That would be a massive shame and a great loss. The festival has an international reputation in the jazz world and sponsorship can get businesses in touch with between 5,000 and 7,000 people who are potential customers.

“Many of our sponsors have more or less been with us forever and you can’t expect the same group of people to pay out continually. With the tax breaks you get, a sponsorship package doesn’t have to be much more than a standard ticket price.

“It would be really nice to get some of the big names who have been in Wigan for years. Sporting events tend to be supported by local businesses but the cultural and mental health of the borough is important as well as the physical health.”

The latest financial challenge for the jazz festival comes just a year after it was rescued in time for last year’s edition, which was a massive success.

This year’s event is no exception as the festival gets under way with a bang as Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band plays its only UK dates at the Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM) in Manchester.

Demand for tickets to see the all-star US supergroup is so great that a second night has now been added. However, a massive rejig of the festival’s programme this year means local and new talent will be showcased more than ever, although Ian says this also opens up sponsorship opportunities.

He said: “We’re looking for people to come in and sponsor aspects of the festival, like our morning sessions which are now for new talent. It’s like on TV where certain programmes or types of programme are sponsored by someone.”

WIJF is hosting an event for potential sponsors at Wigan Cricket Club on Monday February 27 at 7.30pm.

Anyone attending or wanting to find out more about sponsoring the festival should email info@leisuretecuk.com