New York's Jazz Festival loses sponsor

JVC taking 'promotional activities in different direction'

The curtain has fallen on the JVC Jazz Festival New York, and the city will likely be without a flagship jazz festival until new sponsorship emerges.

A spokesman for the Japanese electronics company said it would not be sponsoring any jazz events in 2009, ending what he called "a productive and successful relationship" dating to 1984 when JVC first attached its name to the New York fest.

"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," Terry Shea, a spokesman for the Wayne, N.J.-based JVC U.S.A., said in a statement.

Jazz impresario George Wein, who arranged the original JVC sponsorship deal, called JVC "the best sponsor anybody ever had."

Instead of a festival, Wein is producing under his own name three concerts at Carnegie Hall in late June, when the JVC event usually takes place. He chose performers he is confident can fill the costly venue -- British singer-pianist Jamie Cullum and Diana Krall.

"I booked artists that I knew I could do on my own without a festival, without a sponsor, and at least not get hurt," Wein said.

Last year's two-week JVC Jazz Festival New York featured nearly 40 concerts -- including 11 in Carnegie Hall's two main performance spaces with such artists as Herbie Hancock, Chris Botti and Joao Gilberto -- plus nearly 200 additional events at clubs, schools, museums and other venues.

Wein said he has already reserved dates at Carnegie Hall for June 2010 in hopes that he will be able to present a full-fledged festival next summer if he can line up new sponsorship: "I would like to keep the festival alive," he said.

New York City still has one June jazz festival, the modestly budgeted avant-garde Vision Festival XIV at an arts center on the Lower East Side, but founder Patricia Nicholson Parker said it would be "kind of foolish to see it as a replacement" for the more mainstream JVC event.