Request to move back JAS festival nixed by City of Aspen
Though it may put the Jazz Aspen Snowmass June Festival in jeopardy, the Aspen City Council refused Tuesday to let festival organizers reschedule the concerts to the weekend before July 4.The council unanimously rejected the requested new dates for the June Festival. The JAS board will decide in the next couple of weeks whether to go forward with the 2006 June Festival, said Marc Breslin, the organization’s executive vice president.Hinting that the show may go on, though, Breslin and festival director Joe Lang confirmed with the council that the city’s usual $25,000 contribution to the event remains in place for next year. The funds subsidize free concerts on the mall during the festival.The festival is scheduled for June 22-25. Organizers asked to reschedule it to Friday through Monday, June 30-July 3, to capitalize on the busy weekend to boost attendance at the concerts.The June Festival, which used to be held in Snowmass, has continued to struggle since it moved to Aspen’s Rio Grande Park two years ago, Lang said.”It has gotten to the point, we don’t know if we can have an early summer festival if we can’t make this move,” he said.The festival came close but did not cover its $1.5 million in expenses last year and has accumulated losses in the “six-figure level,” Lang said. Its losses in Aspen are “not as dramatic, but pretty close” to what it experienced in Snowmass, he said.Nonetheless, the council followed the recommendation of the staffers on the city’s Special Events Committee in rejecting the scheduling of the June Festival, citing traffic concerns and the addition of another draw to an already busy weekend. Parks and police representatives said the June Festival could be accommodated on the later weekend but it wouldn’t be easy. The move would mean a lot of overtime for some already overtaxed city employees at that time of year, added Steve Barwick, city manager.Eleven days after the JAS festival, the park would need to be cleared and in shape to host Race for the Cure activities – another complication with the later dates.”I guess I just have real concerns about the Fourth of July weekend. Town is nuts,” Councilwoman Rachel Richards said. “I just don’t see it as a workable date.”Staffers suggested the festival instead move to July 20-23, but that conflicts with the JAS Jazz Academy and its annual gala, Lang said.”I love the June Festival being in Aspen,” said Mayor Helen Klanderud, expressing hope that it can continue to grow into a successful event in its current spot on the calendar.”In the bigger picture, there is something to be said for trying to build up those periods of time when you don’t have those big crowds,” she said.The festival is held inside a 3,000-seat tent. Last year’s acts included Boz Scaggs and former Talking Heads frontman David Byrne.JAS also hosts a much larger outdoor Labor Day Festival in Snowmass, which included two shows by Widespread Panic this year.
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