New format, but was Nice Jazz Festival 2011 a success?
Mayor Christian Estrosi was in jubilant mood at Tuesday's press conference as he rattled off the successes of this year's Nice Jazz Festival. He was very keen to emphasise how he personally took the risk of moving the Festival to the centre of the city.
I lost count of the number of times Estrosi used the word "I", describing all the various activities that went into putting this event together. He was clearly upset that some of the press (including FR2DAY) attacked the decision to move from Cimiez, and he was in a triumphant mood as he rattled off the statistics. But just how much of a success was it?
First, let's look at the numbers of people attending. Estrosi claimed that the reason he wanted to have the Festival in the city centre was so that more people could attend. The total number of people attending this year is slightly less than 2010 - around 30,000. The difference is that they were squeezed into five nights instead of eight.
The entrance prices were lower, but the corporate sponsorship deals partly offset that with a huge area dedicated to big businesses that had done deals with the Festival. The money earned from this part was 400,000 Euros. Overall the Festival cost Nice 2.5m Euros to run this year, with a total revenue of €1.25M. Estrosi states that if the City had paid suppliers to run the Festival it would have cost around 1.4m Euros. So there is a lower net cost by doing it directly through the town hall instead of outsourcing.
Quality of the music
In Cimiez the festival had 48 acts, while this year had a total of 30. By having fewer acts, the Festival concentrated on bigger names. Some of the shows this year were superb. In Cimiez there was more discovery and diversity, but nobody can argue with a Festival like this one that has Seal, Wynton Marsalis, John McLaughlin, Maceo Parker and Avishai Cohen.
Cimiez was such a special place for a festival: the three stages you could wander between, the scheduling that was staggered so that you could take in something new before going on to see your favourite, the inspirational surroundings...not possible for the city centre to beat that. On the other hand, Cimiez was harder for people to get to and parking was tough.
The biggest problem with the central location is that it is not big enough for all the people attending. On the last two nights there were 9,000 people on the site, and that is too crowded for the space available. In the Theatre de la Verdure tempers were starting to get frayed in the heat with so many people squeezed in. To make sure this Festival is better than Cimiez, the organisers need to stagger the programming, find more space or sell less tickets, and improve the choices of on-site catering.
M Estrosi is convinced - he's already planned the dates for next year, 6 to 10 July 2012! And he confidently expects to be organising it all himself for the next ten to fifteen years.
All photographs © FR2DAY