Jazz festival canceledPublished 10:06pm Thursday, July 25, 2013
A jazz festival set for this weekend in Suffolk has been canceled because of slow ticket sales, organizers stated in an email sent out Thursday morning.
The Suffolk Riverfront Jazz Festival, which would have benefited the Gladys Gatlin Foundation — an organization that helps female veterans — was set to be held at the Hilton Garden Inn on East Constance Road. Performances lined up had included names like Dianne Reeves, Jeff Lorber, Maestro J and Julian Vaughn.
“In spite of bringing an awesome line-up to Hampton Roads, we regret to inform you that the ticket sales were not strong enough to support the festival,” organizers wrote in the email. “Therefore, the festival has been canceled.”
In the emailed letter, executive director Aubrey Wilson suggested some would-be guests thought the price was too high compared to jazz festivals in Richmond and Norfolk. Wilson blamed the price differential on the fact that those festivals have big-name sponsors, something Suffolk Riverfront Jazz had been unable to obtain “through no lack of diligence.”
General admission tickets for each evening of performances in Suffolk were $68.50 per person, with a two-ticket minimum purchase. VIP tickets, which included preferred seating and a buffet dinner, were $92.50 each evening with a two-ticket minimum.
Tickets to Norfolk’s festival, held last weekend, were $28 each day for Friday and Saturday and $20 on Sunday. A three-day combo ticket was $49.
Tickets to Richmond’s festival, set for Aug. 8-11, are going for $60 each night for the big performance nights or $110 for the entire weekend.
Wilson wrote that Suffolk’s price was “great for the lineup that was presented,” but the festival “has yet to receive critical undergirding financial sponsorship dollars, thus ensuring the success of the festival independent of ticket sales.”
“We do believe that this event should have been quite successful as last year’s festival,” he wrote. “Unfortunately, the ticket sales didn’t reflect the same.”
Wilson did not return phone messages and emails Thursday seeking information on whether and how refunds will be issued. As of Thursday afternoon, the website for the event — www.suffolkriverfrontjazz.com — did not reflect the cancellation.
A Facebook post from the Hilton Garden Inn Suffolk Riverfront Hotel and Conference Center carried news of the cancellation and offered “packages for jazz patrons who have reserved rooms for this weekend to accommodate the situation the best we can.”
Brian Williams, manager of the Hilton Garden Inn, had not returned a message by Thursday evening.