Recently there has been quite a brouhaha in the SA press about the R28million spent by the KZN Provincial Govt on obtaining the licence for the North Sea Jazz Festival to be held in KZN (Durban?). The NSJF licence was not obtained nor was the festival actually held. Much of the scandal has been about the fact that this rather expensive festival did not materialise. Quite frankly, I believe everyone is missing the point. For me there are way more pertinent questions that need answering.
Question one: How does an arbitrary consortium get access to that kind of money in the first place? There are countless underfunded existing festivals in the region already, none of whom have access to this kind of funding? Is this a case of ‘who you know’ again. Interesting that the name of Mike Mabuyakulu, whose reputation is already tainted by the ‘amigos’ scandal, is embroiled once more.
Question 2: Why is KZN interested in the NSJF in the first place? Dont tell me about the economic benefits because as a festival organiser of some success myself, I understand the potential of economic and marketing benefits of such festivals. However, Cape Town and Johannesburg have already toyed with this particular festival and subsequently rejected it as too expensive and not cost effective. Has anyone investigated why these SA cities no longer work with the NSJF? The Cape Town jazz festival was initially started as the North Sea Jazz Festival. After a few years CT decided to go it alone and have now become the Jazz festival in SA. The point is music festivals irrespective of the genre have great ecoomic and social benefit when they are able to reach critical mass.
Question 3: Why do our leaders insist on constantly playing in an arena that is clearly led by Cape Town and Johannesburg anyway? It is clear that Cape Town is the No 1 Jazz city in our country, closely followed by Jo’burg and then the Joy of Jazz at the NAFEST in Grahamstown. Anything that Durban/KZN does in the jazz arena will clearly only be following the leaders.
Question 4: Why does KZN still have this delusion that the region are lovers of Jazz? Have they not noticed how the Zulu Jazz Lounge was unable to sustain itself or how P4 the Jazz station had to change its genre and style to become Gagazi FM? The number one musical genre is Gospel. Surely, if the region wants to be a leader and have ownership in a national and international music sector they should be looking at the empty spaces like Gospel, Blues, Rock & Traditional music and put their financial muscle behind those ideas rather than copying the Wesern Cape and Gauteng success stories. These genres are by far the most popular genres in the region and not Jazz. Jazz has a following but it is miniscule in comparison.