CityLife Arts

Joy of Jazz is off folks

By Edward Tsumele

Many will agree that it was inevitable that the Joy of Jazz Festival would be postponed this year. This is so especially given the fact that the world has put an indefinite ban on international flights, and a good number of the artists who of course alongside their African counterparts, have given this festival the prestige and the standing it now enjoys are based overseas and cannot travel. Also the issue of the containment of the coronavirus is still a teething problem for many countries. Its peak in South Africa, for example, is predicted to happen in September, exactly the same month when the annual feast of jazz music was penciled to take place. And so, come September, jazzophiles will have to take it easy as there will be no jiving to their popular jazz pieces by their favourite artists. It is off folks, and therefore, you will have to find something else to enjoy with family during this lock down. 

These are unusual times, and everyone has to be used to the ‘new normal’ in the face of the current threat posed by a tiny but dangerous virus lurking amongst us, threatening life itself. And to minimize the rate of infection and the spread of the virus, social distancing is the norm, and postponing Joy of Jazz where crowds were going to meet, mingle and share the love of jazz was the right thing to do by the organisers of this annual feast of music and much more, T-Musicman. In the name of public safety this is the reasonable decision to make right now, not matter the inconvenience to loyal jazz lovers.  Going ahead with the festival was almost going to be impossible as many of you would know, to exercise social distancing at such events  is not practical. The experience of attending the Joy of Jazz festival is  actually more than musical experience. It is at such events where new friendship is initiated and established, where friends hug and extend a hand-shake in the name of the music and camaraderie. Unfortunately under the current situation, it is also a place where the virus could easily spread, and hence the postponement.

“It is with mixed emotions, that we have to announce the postponement of the 23rdedition of the annual Standard Bank Joy of Jazz until further notice.

The COVID-19 Pandemic has created an unprecedented situation which affects all of us. Our hearts go out to all who’ve been impacted by the virus, either directly or indirectly.

At T-Musicman, we have consulted and deliberated broadly in order to comprehend the challenges facing the country, and based on the status quo, we feel compelled to reach out and communicate the decision we’ve arrived at. 

The South African Government has issued regulations that should be observed during the Lockdown period. Part of these regulations involve the banning of Public Gatherings, and the closure of all places or premises normally open to the public where cultural events are hosted. Government Regulations on entertainment activities are quite straightforward at this stage concerning the gathering of people in public spaces, with clear guidelines outlined by the Industry Organization, the Events Safety Council, that continues to negotiate with the relevant Government Departments,” says a statement released by T-Musicman, the company behind the festival that started at State Theatre in Pretoria in 1995, before moving to Newtown and eventually to its current home at the Sandton Convenion Centre.

“As a leading events company, T Musicman recognizes the necessity for health and safety precautions to be taken, the need for assessing the risks associated with exposure to COVID-19, hence our continuous assessment of measures are consistent with overall national strategies and policies juxtaposed against global practices from our industry peers.

Understandably, as a model corporate citizen for over 2 decades, we observe the obligations imposed on all of us that, everyone should be concerned about the impact on lives of individuals which could lead to unprecedented levels of casualties and loss of life, hence some proposals from certain quarters on Virtual Entertainment, somehow supported by Live Streaming[JKK1] ”.

The Standard Bank Joy of Jazz will be considering some practical activities within the Festival elements that makes it possible to be staged in a virtual format, primarily considering that the event prides itself over the years of being anchored as a Lifestyle Festival, and not just a presentation of Music performances. It continues to be prudent to take all matters at our disposal into consideration, and rigorous consultations with Partners/Stakeholders before any decisions can be made.

While we are all committed to the preservation of lives, we are also cognizant of the devastating effect this pandemic has on all of our livelihood  Historical moments like these reminds all of us that we’re all connected symbiotically, and challenged to be resolute, patient, committed with an understanding that despite the many difficulties confronting us, let’s remain patriotic and united while remaining focused in fighting this pandemic,” says Peter Tladi, the execuitive producer and founder of Joy of Jazz festival.

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