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Confidence boost for Istanbul Jazz Festival

A year after disruption due to an attempted coup, festival returns with panache

By James Drury on 01 Aug 2017

The success of Istanbul Jazz Festival this year left organisers highly confident of doubling audience next year

The success of Istanbul Jazz Festival left organisers confident of doubling audience sizes next year


image © Selcuk Polat

Last year the Istanbul Jazz Festival was disrupted by a period of political unrest which culminated in a failed coup. So organisers understandably had a little trepidation about how audiences would respond this year.

They needn’t have worried.

“The audience reaction was amazing,” reports festival director Pelin Opcin. “We reached our target of 98% attendance, with 25,000 people attending.

“But it’s not just about the numbers, what was also important for us was seeing how long people stayed at the festival outside of the concert times, and what the general vibe was like. We were delighted – the eagerness and enthusiasm I saw among attendees this year is really promising.

“Artists also told us they had a great time.”

“Based on this year’s experience I feel confident we will be able to return to 45,000 capacity next year”

In the past the event reached a capacity of 40,000-45,000. Organisers wanted to be confident venues would be full, so reduced capacity by hosting free events in smaller venues.

Opcin hopes the success of the event will prove to artists that Istanbul can be a major place for touring once again.

“Based on this year’s experience I feel confident we will be able to return to 45,000 capacity next year,” she adds.

The 4-20 July event promoted by the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (IKSV) featured artists such as Joshua Redman, Donny McCaslin and Christian McBride, and a special tribute to renowned flamenco guitarist Paco de Lucia.

The programme is made up of a mixture of free and ticketed concerts. The festival is renowned for using architecturally- and historically-interesting venues and locations, such as an abandoned shoe factory, courtyards and terraces.

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