Thursday, June 21, 2018
Business

Clearwater Jazz Holiday will no longer be free in 2012

CLEARWATER — Nancy Blacklin checks the lineup for the Clearwater Jazz Holiday every year.

If the 80-year-old grandmother sees someone on there she likes — like trumpeter Chris Botti or pianist Dave Brubeck — she makes sure to keep the third weekend in October clear for the free four-day concert in Coachman Park.

That routine will include one significant change this October, if Blacklin likes the lineup: She'll need to hand over $10 to get through the gate at the waterfront park.

One of the largest free jazz festivals in the country will no longer be free. The Clearwater Jazz Holiday Foundation announced Monday that, for the first time in the 33-year history of the event, a general admission fee will be charged.

Admission will cost $10 per day for the festival, scheduled for Oct. 18-21. There will be no charge for children 12 and under.

Event organizers said they did not come to the decision lightly. Bob Childress, president of the Clearwater Jazz Holiday Foundation, said organizers have considered charging for admission for years, due to continued drops in corporate sponsorship and grant money.

The event has a budget of about $1 million, according to foundation consultant Gary Hallas. In 2008, corporate sponsorship and grants covered $500,000. That number dropped to about $150,000 for last year's event.

"This time it was just too tight," Childress said. "We decided that we needed to take the next step."

The Holiday receives additional revenue from vendor sales and donations, including corporate donations.

In the past, the annual festival has drawn as many as 100,000 people for the long weekend, but attendance has hovered around 40,000 in recent years. The foundation surveyed attendees last year and asked if they'd pay an entrance fee. According to Childress, the answer was overwhelming: yes.

"It's a little bit sad, but I think it's reasonable," said Cary Stiff, one of Jazz Holiday's founders. "It's a sign of the times. … Cash is just very difficult to come by."

The Jazz Holiday has always been free but has struggled in recent years to keep bringing in premium acts without charging for admission. In 1997 the Clearwater City Commission okayed alcohol sales at the concert, hoping that would help defray costs. In 2004 the event started asking for donations from attendees, which has helped, Hallas said, but it has not developed into a large revenue stream.

Organizers hope to eventually drop the entrance fee and make the Holiday free again. But that is just a hope. And they didn't preclude the possibility of charging more than $10 in 2013, based on how this year's event goes.

"It's still a signature event for the city of Clearwater, so hopefully it does bridge the gap," Hallas said. "But there's no guarantee."

Blacklin said she won't mind the entrance fee. The Clearwater grandmother remembers fondly the Holiday's early years, when she and her husband Roy could stretch out on a blanket and take in the tunes. Roy Blacklin died in 2009. Nancy Blacklin went that year to hear her favorite trumpeter, Botti. She skipped last year's event, though, because of the crowds.

The news of an admission fee overshadows, at least for now, another annual tradition for Clearwater Jazz Holiday organizers: dealing with criticism from jazz fans that the lineup is not jazz-centric enough.

Blacklin, for example, was not won over by the headline acts the foundation announced Monday: folk-blues singer Bonnie Raitt, folk rock band the Avett Brothers, and jazz saxophonist Mindi Abair. Event organizers still have about 15 more acts to select, and they'll need to pick some good ones to get Blacklin's $10.

"They're the headliners?" Blacklin said. "Since when is Bonnie Raitt jazz?"

Will Hobson can be reached at (727)-445-4167 or [email protected]

Comments
Pride divided no more: St. Pete Pride comes back together

Pride divided no more: St. Pete Pride comes back together

ST. PETERSBURG — The 16th annual St. Pete Pride Parade is getting ready to march along the downtown waterfront the second straight year. But many hope to move past the division caused last year when the parade was uprooted from its original hom...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Domain Homes: Buyers love them, some others don’t

Domain Homes: Buyers love them, some others don’t

TAMPA — When the 2008 financial crash brought down the nation’s housing market, hundreds of home builders went out of business. Among them was Sharon McSwain Homes in Atlanta, forced to liquidate in 2009.But just as developers like to develop, builde...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Armature Works developers sue Ulele and city of Tampa over use of nearby building

Armature Works developers sue Ulele and city of Tampa over use of nearby building

TAMPA — Two of the city’s hottest developers — the companies behind Ulele and the Armature Works — are heading to court over control of an old city building that sits between the hit eateries. Both want to redevelop the city&...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Orlando airport first to scan faces of U.S. citizens on international flights

Orlando airport first to scan faces of U.S. citizens on international flights

Associated PressFlorida’s busiest airport is becoming the first in the nation to require a face scan of passengers on all arriving and departing international flights, including U.S. citizens, according to officials there. The expected announcement T...
Published: 06/21/18
Saboteur or whistleblower? Battle between Elon Musk and former Tesla employee turns ugly, exposing internal rancor

Saboteur or whistleblower? Battle between Elon Musk and former Tesla employee turns ugly, exposing internal rancor

Hours after Tesla had sued its former employee on charges he had stolen company secrets, and days after chief Elon Musk had called him a saboteur, the Silicon Valley automaker made a startling claim. The company had received a call from a friend of t...
Published: 06/21/18
WTR Pool and Grille brings ‘fun dining’ pool party scene to Tampa

WTR Pool and Grille brings ‘fun dining’ pool party scene to Tampa

Mike Piper has traveled to Las Vegas and Miami and enjoyed the fun, daytime, party pool scene that the two cities have to offer.Now he aims to bring that same atmosphere to Tampa with a new dining and hang out spot. WTR Pool & Grill opened on Sunday ...
Published: 06/21/18
Grace Family Church gives thrift stores an upgrade in South Tampa

Grace Family Church gives thrift stores an upgrade in South Tampa

A new resale store has made its way to South Tampa. Grace Family Church recently opened Vintage Etc., to provide affordable, quality merchandise to the community and continue its outreach to help families in need in a loving Christian environment. "W...
Published: 06/21/18
2.4 million Floridians expected to travel for Fourth of July

2.4 million Floridians expected to travel for Fourth of July

Summer has officially started and so have summer travel plans. About 2.4 million Floridians are expected to travel for the Fourth of July holiday weekend, up 6.3 percent from last year, according to AAA, The Auto Club Group."We are already seeing a b...
Published: 06/21/18
Taylor Morrison builds in Wesley Chapel

Taylor Morrison builds in Wesley Chapel

Taylor Morrison will build a new subdivision off of Boyette Road between Wesley Chapel Boulevard and Overpass Road.The builder and developer recently broke ground on Chapel Chase, set on approximately 40 acres just north of New Tampa in Pasco County....
Published: 06/21/18
Grain and Berry Cafe to bring its healthy menu to USF area

Grain and Berry Cafe to bring its healthy menu to USF area

Grain & Berry Cafe opened in Palm Harbor, and now the healthy eatery is rapidly expanding throughout the Tampa Bay area.The healthy eatery opened a new location on E Fowler Ave near the University of South Florida in May, just 10 months after opening...
Published: 06/21/18