The demise of the Portland Jazz Festival was announced today by press release from its membership umbrella organization PDX Jazz, cancelling plans for February 2009 due to the pullout by title sponsor Qwest Communications. Despite concerted attempts by festival producer Bill Royston, no other funder stepped up to support the five-year-old festival’s modest budget with high returns, and the result may be due to the U.S.’s overall economic downturn.
“In 2008 we had 36,000 attendees at 150 events, 130 of which were free,” claims Royston, who previously put on Oregon’s Mt. Hood Jazz Festival and who will continue to work on the Bellevue (Washington) Jazz Festival, which debuted in April 2008. “We thought we had all the right pieces in place here, when Qwest first took on the title sponsorship for $50,000.” In 2005 the City of Portland signed a pact supporting the Festival with $100,000 over three years, and Qwest increased its contribution, resulting in a $150,000 total budget (including ticket sales at 20 events) for the festival in 2008.