[Dixielandjazz] festivals

Sam Meerkin/Evelyne Perks smeerkin at melbpc.org.au
Tue Oct 11 04:34:50 PDT 2005

A city the size of Melbourne, Australia should have a festival of OKOM when one considers the wealth of jazz talent this city can boast.  We have a few radio programs devoted to OKOM, which are well supported, (mine being one) and a number of jazz clubs and other venues in the city with dedicated fans who think nothing of getting into their cars and travelling to country towns, far and wide to attend festivals.
In 1997, listmate Ross Anderson, I and a few other enthusiasts put together a festival of some of the best local and interstate talent available in OKOM, together with a few quality U.S. bands, a New Zealand band and even some more modern examples of our music.  We had an army of volunteers and our overheads were relatively low.  The public turned up in great numbers to venues all over town and the majority of events was free.  This was because we had sponsorship of the city of Melbourne and a number of other bodies with a message to convey to the public and services to offer.  It was a huge success.  When the politicians saw the potential of such an event, a professional director was appointed (on a large salary), restauratuers and other business people, not to mention the politicians themselves, bathing in the reflected glory and assorted others with vested interests hijacked the event and it was taken out of our hands.  The modernists moved in with their better contacts to business, the younger, more affluent trendies and the media and we had lost it.  Melbourne's new international jazz festival became very elitist, esoteric and expensive.  Sponsors withdrew and the festival lasted only 3 or 4 years before falling in a heap.
I'm not a Rotarian, but the local Rotary club where I live in suburban Melbourne asked me to put together a program, with a modest budget, to present to the people of Melbourne, a festival of OKOM.  What attracted me was the venue.  Just 3 miles from downtown Melbourne, on a bend of the Yarra River is piece of land known as the Collingwood Children's Farm.  This place provides a chance for city kids to see real farm animals (& even cuddle some), grow vegetables and experience a rural setting right in town.  What my Rotarian friends are offering is a chance to expose kids to OKOM by getting their parents & grandparents to take them along (for free) as a family outing, to enlist some school bands to strut their stuff and give a pleasant, well paid gig to the cream of our local jazz talent.  To view the website check out;  www.jazzatthefarm.com.au 
It's all happening on the weekend of November 26th - 27th this year.
Regards to all from this long time lurker.
Sam Meerkin  

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