Syracuse Jazzfest 2018 Officially Cancelled, Focus to Come Back Next Year & Sustain Into Future

May 24, 2018

Syracuse Jazzfest Founder and Executive Director Frank Malfitano confirmed the event had to be cancelled for 2018. He wants to return in 2019, as well as find ways to secure the festival's financial future for years to come.
Credit Chris Bolt/WAER News / WAER FM

The founder and organizer of the Syracuse Jazzfest confirmed Thursday, the event is cancelled for 2018 – a year after celebrating its 35th anniversary.  Frank Malfitano says money issues prevented him from putting on an event of the caliber of previous years. 

“A funny thing happened on the way to this year’s Jazz festival.  We decided that we could not mount it.  So there will be no Jazzfest this summer.  But that is not a fatal blow.  It’s a disappointment to me and I’m sure it’s a disappointment to everybody that’s come to count on this festival.”

He explains the budget fell about 150-thousand dollars short, largely due to the loss of title sponsor M-and-T Bank. 

Malfitano’s now making a plea for a title sponsor and other financial support, to go along with civic funding and in-kind contributions to sustain the festival. 

 Friehofer's Saratoga Jazz Festival Organizer Danny Melnick was in Syracuse to lend his support.  Officially 

Danny Melnick, Producer of the 41st Freihofer's Saratoga Jazz Festival, spoke in support of keeping such events alive for artistic, community and economic reasons.
Credit Chris Bolt/WAER News / WAER FM

“My message really is to the community here in Syracuse, to the business community, to the government, any philanthropists out there, we, as an international Jazz community are hoping that people will step up and really understand how important Jazz Festivals are to big and small towns and cities all over the world.

Melnick suggests such events spur jobs and provide an economic boost from those who attend.  As for the future, Malfitano has no details, but pledges to be back next year. 

“I think what we have to determine, the city, the county, Centerstate CEO, Visit Syracuse, all our stakeholders, where it’s going to work, and where it’s going to work best.  It’s possible that in the future we might get tied to a venue.  We may discover that there is more funding available to us if we move to a certain location.” 

That means considering the Lakeview Amphitheater or a downtown location for a 2019 Jazzfest.  Malfitano wants to work on a three-year funding plan to ensure the festival’s longevity. 

“And let me be very clear about what our long-term goal is: This festival needs to continue for another 20 or 30 or 40 years.  It would be a tragedy, and I refuse to believe Syracuse is short-sighted.  I think this is a caring community and I’ve seen what the county has done to help other arts organizations and cultural institutions, where their focus has shifted to the Landmark (Theater) or the Symphony.” 

Malfitano hopes this year’s county funding will remain in place for a possible festival next year, and into the future.  He says he wants to maintain the quality of festivals form the past … and importantly keep it a free event to allow access for all parts of the community.  More from Thursday’s announcement can be seen at the Syracuse Jazzfest facebook page.