Inside Jazz in the Park: Crème de la crème jazz festival in the heart of Transylvania
Jazz in the Park returns to Cluj-Napoca, the heart of Transylvania, for its tenth four-day eclectic and vibrant musical experience from September 1st to September 4th, on five different stages: Church Stage, Backyard Stage, Young Stage, Vinyl Stage, and Night Stage.
To commemorate its 10-year run, Jazz in the Park 2022 invited more than 50 performers to color the Ethnographic Park in Cluj-Napoca in an amazing spectacle: The Comet is Coming, Asaf Avidan, Avishai Cohen Quartet, Dhafer Youssef: Digital Africa, Yussef Dayes, joined by Roberto Fonseca Trio and more, along with jam sessions, night electro concerts, handmade and vinyl stores, and musical workshops.
Alin Vaida, the festival's showrunner and the executive director at event organizer Fapte (pictured third from left), sat down with Romania-insider.com to discuss what is special about this year's celebration and its costs, his plans, and his hatred for the internet's latest trend of underappreciating artists.
Jazz in the Park was one of the only festivals held in Romania during the pandemic years of 2020 and 2021. What was it like?
To be honest, I oddly liked it. There were a lot of festivals that took place in 2021, but in 2020, we were the only music festival in Cluj that was held. It was weird because it was still forbidden by the Government to hold any cultural events, but we had nothing to lose. We believed that what we did would help somebody's morale during a tough time, and it wasn't for the money as we were only allowed to host 500 people at the concert. But the fact that everybody saw our communication campaign and advertisement helped people's anxiety over the crisis and told them that "this too shall pass."
In 2021? What were the numbers?
I think the cap was 3,000 people per venue. It wasn't the official cap because the Government put the restriction higher, but this is what we felt was acceptable back then for our crowd.
This is going to be the first Jazz in the Park event held post-COVID. Other than that, what makes this year's edition different from the others?
It's hard because we are in the tenth edition, so what else is there to innovate? But well, first of all, we will have a "Night Stage" with DJs - something we did not have back then because we used to close the festival at around 11 PM. We will maximize the use of Ethnographic Park Romulus Vuia to 5,000 people per day, something we did not do last year because we expanded the festival to the entire city. We need to be extra careful because we are doing a festival in a museum. There will also be a lot of new music coming from our artists, so it is exciting and important.
Isn't this the biggest jazz festival in Romania? You've been around for ten years. That's some consistency right there.
I think it is safe to say that we are probably the biggest jazz festival in Romania right now. We have been around for ten editions. Yes, we want to go and do jazz events in other cities across Romania, but it won't necessarily be called Jazz in the Park. Jazz in the Park is Cluj exclusive, and our main focus is to bring everybody from all around the country to this city and not go to them with the festival.
Take me through the preparation process for the festival. How long did it take you to take care of all the tidbits, from booking the artists to choosing the venue & the concept?
We always work. It is a continuous process. We even started booking artists for the 2023 edition two months ago because we are in talks with foreign agencies for the artists to know their availabilities. We also have to choose our venue and dates from now on accordingly. Then, it will take us a month to close the deals and pay all the bills, but we have already started. Yes, it does get easier as editions go by, but that's it.
Speaking about the bills, how much does it usually cost to hold an edition, and how do you cover it?
Half a million (500,000) euros, roughly. That's the operational cost of the festival. We cover a bit more than half of it through our generous sponsors; 30-35% of it through ticket sales and other revenues generated directly by the festival. And somewhere around 10% from the City Hall's cultural grant. We get small grants from different embassies that pay for their artists as well, but mostly from sponsors and other revenues generated by the festival.
Jazz in the Park is not just a concert, it is an experience, which is rare in the age of the internet. We'd love to see the show go on for as long as possible, so do you have hopes for future editions of this festival?
We just do our best at each festival, we are committed to our job, and I just hope that people will appreciate live music more.
Here's why. I started hating the internet and being unable to experience music like it's supposed to be enjoyed. I hope that, with this edition and in the future, people will realize that enjoying music and participating in a cultural and musical event like this is much better than paying a little money to stream or watch it online.
It creates this narrative that you have access to everything, and because it's easy, people don't care about it anymore. It should not be like this; we should respect the artists' craft, and that is something we try to bring attention to with Jazz in the Park.
The program of the festival is also available here.
(Opening photo by Romania-insider.com; Pictured from left to right: Laura Laurențiu, communication manager; Denisa Dan, production manager; Alin Vaida, festival director; and Horea Marc, stage manager with Jazz in the Park festival 2022, Cluj-Napoca)