While many festivals continue to struggle, Vancouver Jazz Fest evolves

As pandemic-era navigations have gone, the Vancouver International Jazz Festival has been more successful than many on the West Coast. While many major festivals continue to struggle, some even shutting down, the long-running celebration returns this year for its 38th edition.

In an interview with the Straight, executive director Nina Horvath suggested that there was never any doubt the festival would be going ahead in 2023, with government pandemic-relief funding helping immensely.

“We always knew we could put on a festival this year,” she says. “It was just a question of what size it would be.”

Challenges included the loss of the fest’s long-time title sponsor TD Bank, as well as the reality that the pandemic changed entertainment consumption patterns. As many organization have noted, people got more comfortable staring at TV screens than going out and taking a chance on the arts, including live music.

The response to that reality has been a scaled-down Vancouver International Jazz Festival for 2023. But it’s also a festival that continues to evolve, with Horvath excited about centralized programming on Granville Island where a Roamer Pass gets you access to shows at Performance Works, Ocean Artworks, and the Revue Stage.

“I think the programming this year is, as always, really strong across the board,” Horvath says. “I think it’s super-focused and distilled and there are really exciting things to see. The fact that we’ve brought in a new venue, the Revue Stage, on Granville Island, has changed the whole approach to how people can interact with the whole festival. You can show up at the Island at 2 in the afternoon, stay there, and listen to eight different shows until 1 in the morning. That’s really cool.”


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