Syracuse Jazz Fest founder pushes for public funding to revive festival by 2022

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SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Syracuse’s Jazz Fest had its last performance back in 2017. Funding problems put a pause on the fun, but Frank Malfitano, founder of the festival, now has a plan to bring it back. 

“If everyone wants jazz fest to be back, it will be back. the money is there,” he said. 

The goal for Jazz Fest’s return is 2022, but it would come at the cost of $2.5 million over five years. Malfitano is hoping to get some help from public funds. He’s got a 10 page proposal headed to the desks of local leaders, and is hoping to find a solution to bring the music back. 

The proposal goes into what kinds of music and events that would be featured in the Jazz Fest, with events such as lunchtime concerts, after work concerts, food trucks, beverage stations, and fire pits. Concerts would be held at multiple-roofed stages and closed off street-scapes with stages, according to the proposal, and all of which would be paid for using the five-year fund from 2021-2026 to get the festival on its feet again.

The proposed one-time 5-year fund would enable the festival to focus exclusively on rebooting and reestablishing the festival, while permitting festival organizers to concentrate on programming and marketing and the renewed production of a world class event for the region.

Excerpt from Syracuse Jazz Fest Proposal for Onondaga County
And Syracuse, NY

“I think we need things that unify the community, and jazz fest has been something that has brought people in the community together. It’s free and accessible to everybody. It brings a lot of musical styles. We have got a proven track record of bringing people together and we need to do that again,” Malfitano said. 

Those music styles he’s referring to are also listed in the proposal, and would include smooth jazz, soul jazz, straight-ahead jazz, jazz fusion, New Orleans jazz, big band, brass band, zydeco, Cajun, pop, soul, R&B, Americana, western swing, and latin jazz.

However, a lot has to be figured out about the festival’s revival. For example, locations would need to be selected. The funding is also a major hurdle, but the proposal is a start. 

“The interest is there from the community and the artist. We hope it is there from the public sector as well,” said a hopeful Malfitano. 

More will be known about the future of Jazz Fest in the coming weeks.

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