County Lawmakers Review Jazz Fest Budget Allocation; Mahoney "Fully Supports" Festival

Sep 20, 2016

Onondaga County Lawmakers reviewed the County Executive’s budget proposal for parks and recreation.  Tucked inside is a substantial $75,000 that isn’t specifically named but was presumed to be budgeted for Syracuse Jazz Fest.   There appears to be an indication that the funding could also be tied to a change in venue.

Trombone Shorty at Jazz Fest back in July

When asked by Legislator Linda Ervin about the unnamed money labeled as 'contractual expenses' in the budget proposal, a member of the administration claimed the money was not specifically intended for Syracuse Jazz Fest.  Deputy County Executive Bill Fischer indicated there are intentions to move the Festival to the new Lakeview Amphitheater.  Legislator Kevin Holmquist is concerned.

“The county executive does not know anything about it," Holmquist said. "She doesn’t know how to run the festival. She doesn’t have a right to tell them where they can have their festival, that’s up to Jazz Fest. The funding, also is not up to the county executive.  It's up to the county legislature.”

After hearing from both sides, the Executive Producer of the Festival, Frank Malfitano remained optimistic as lawmakers hammer out the details because, he says, the County has been a long-standing supporter.  

“I heard a call for unanimity on the funding vote for full funding for Jazz Fest this year," Malfitano said. "They seem to have a real understanding that we’re under contract to OCC through 2017.”

Grove Legacy at Jazz Fest back in July

Malfitano adds those contracts will be honored.  He’s looking forward to getting past the budget process.

“I’m a little concerned that the focus is off the 35th anniversary and not on the talent and the artist and I have a lot of work to do.”

The County Executive’s Spokesperson Marty Skahen tells WAER that the County fully supports Jazz Fest and has kept it’s funding in the budget.  He also says Live Nation would not be involved with Jazz Fest at the Lakeview Amphitheater.  The company currently books the music acts for the venue.