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Sunday, April 20, 2014

Elkhart Jazz Festival saw boost in ticket sales

The 2013 Elkhart Jazz Festival included performances by internationally known artists, a Mardi Gras parade, a new smartphone app and more.

Posted on June 28, 2013 at 1:00 a.m. | Updated on June 28, 2013 at 3:25 p.m.

ELKHART — A lineup with internationally known artists and extended ticket sales are among the reasons why Elkhart Jazz Festival organizers believe this year’s event was successful.

David Smith, co-chairman for the festival, expects revenues from tickets to top last year’s total by 40 percent, though volunteers are still tallying final sales. Tickets went on sale 70 days earlier this year, he pointed out, adding that the festival’s reputation also contributed to the event’s prosperity.

“The success of the festival over the past few years is a huge factor in how people felt about the festival this year,” Smith said. “The approach to headliners this year no doubt increased excitement towards the festival and the increase in ticket sales.”

Trumpet player Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra played to a sold-out crowd Saturday, June 22, at the Lerner Theatre, and co-headliner John Pizzarelli, a swing guitarist and singer, had three packed performances during the festival.

Smith called the boost in ticket sales “encouraging.”

“You look at jazz festivals, and their future is really driven by ticket sales,” he said. “We’re so thankful for our sponsors and so thankful for the city of Elkhart and their contributions, but with that said, growing ticket sales is really the key component to growing the festival.”

Smith and co-chairman Kurt Janowski have already committed to being the head organizers of the 2014 Elkhart Jazz Festival. The festival will add talent committee member Ben Decker as a third co-chairman for the event.

The jazz festival had a few new features this year, including a New Orleans-style Mardi Gras parade and an exclusive concert for sponsors that allowed the public to watch on boats from the St. Joseph River. The festival also introduced its first smartphone app that allowed festivalgoers to plan their stage-hopping adventures. The app was downloaded 2,100 times.

“The Elkhart Jazz Festival is similar to the style of music it embraces,” Smith said. “It is an evolving, ever-changing form of music presented for the engagement of the listener. While rooted in traditions, it branches out through a combination of strategic risk and improvisation. That’s jazz, and that’s what the festival was this year.”

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