Virus crisis silences Victoria jazz festival

Organizers of the TD Victoria International Jazz Festival have cancelled the upcoming 37th edition of the annual event, citing the COVID-19 crisis.

The Victoria Jazz Society, which produces the event, announced the decision Thursday after weeks of uncertainty. The festival was set for June 19–28 at various venues, and was to include sets from the Legendary Count Basie Orchestra, Emmet Cohen Trio, Charlie Hunter and Lucy Woodward and Tower of Power, among others.

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The festival — one of the longest-running annual music events in Victoria — has a considerable economic impact on the city, as it runs over a 10-day period, with both free and paid performances for about 30,000 annual attendees.

Bans on non-essential travel and gatherings exceeding 50 people meant a cancellation was inevitable. “We had to carefully consider the health and well-being of patrons, artists, volunteers and staff, and came to this conclusion,” the Victoria Jazz Society said in a statement.

Organizers are working with public funders, donors and corporate partners on a plan to present a series of concerts that would begin in late summer and would include components of the TD Victoria International JazzFest and Vancouver Island Blues Bash. The society, which also produces the latter event, has not announced if the 27th annual blues festival, which is currently set for Sept. 5-7, will go ahead as planned.

Tickets to the previously announced Marquee Series performances at the Royal Theatre and McPherson Playhouse will be refunded at the point of purchase. Refunds will be processed starting April 14.

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