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‘The people want it’: All Things Go on diversifying lineups

Independent, female-driven US festival All Things Go is set to celebrate its 10th anniversary this September, with its organisers highlighting how curating a diverse event has paid off.

Speaking with IQ, co-founders Will Suter and Stephen Vallimarescu and brand partnerships and advocacy manager Carlie Webbert discuss the evolution of the DC-based festival. Launching in 2014 as the one-day All Things Go Fall Classic, organisers began curating female-led programming to highlight festivals’ gender imbalance in 2018, with that year’s edition curated by singers Maggie Rogers and LPX.

Since then, the festival has boasted a majority of female and non-binary performers, with the 28-29 September event to be led by Laufey, Bleachers, Hozier, Reneé Rapp, Janelle Monáe, Conan Gray, and Chappell Roan. It marks the third consecutive sellout for the indie event, with 40,000 fans to attend across two days. Last year, the late-summer event expanded from one day, with the 2023 edition headlined by Lana Del Rey, Maggie Rogers, boygenius, and Carly Rae Jepsen.

Gender-balanced festival lineups are rare, with 90% of headline performers being male across 50 European festivals, according to a study by IQ and ROSTR. Across complete lineups, only 35% of artists were female and 1% were non-binary. Attendees have lovingly received the event, dubbing it “Gay-Chella,” “All Things Gay,” and “Lesbopalooza”.

Once you prioritise inclusion, your community will be stronger because you platform voices that usually don’t get the stage,” Webbert says.

Thirty-six artists will perform across multiple stages at ATG’s Maryland amphitheatre base, its biggest edition yet, including Maren Morris, Remi Wolf, Ethel Cain, and Julien Baker. Alongside the music programming, organisers will continue their one-night panel series, the Creator Summit, bringing together leaders in music, media, activism, and technology.

Here, the All Things Go organisers answer 10 questions in celebration of its 10th anniversary.

“Music is a powerful vessel for creating change”

This year marks your 10th anniversary. How are you planning to celebrate the accomplishment this year, and what are you proud to have accomplished over the past 10 years?

Will Suter: We’re celebrating our 10-year anniversary with our biggest lineup to date! We’ll have 36 artists performing over the two days at Merriweather Post Pavilion, in addition to a few surprises along the way. We’re proud to have created a robust community of music fans who circle ATG on their calendar every year and keep coming back — in addition to the new festival fans who might be experiencing the event for the first time.

This year’s edition takes place roughly one month before the presidential election in the capital. What plans do you have to intertwine social activism within the two-day schedule?

Carlie Webbert: Music is a powerful vessel for creating change. For the past few years, we’ve worked with advocacy organisations to ensure we do our part in platforming important causes. Last year we worked with Spotify EQUAL and The Ally Coalition to create a physical activism village on site with six non-profit organisations that were set up for fans to interact with. This year we’ll be working with Propeller, Calling All Crows, Headcount, Peta, Reverb, and more to drive awareness for those organisations along with raising funds. Ultimately, the advocacy arm of the festival will continue to grow and given how engaged the fans at ATG are, we are excited to see the impact that comes from it.

The cost of two-day general admission passes started at just under $200. With the cost of living and live music rising, how could you keep ticket prices down and why is it important to your team to keep the event affordable for different budgets?

Stephen Vallimarescu: Despite costs increasing substantially over the past few years, we strive to keep ticket prices as accessible as possible — and often lower than industry averages. As an independent music festival with a thriving community, we are constantly polling fans to understand what we can do to ensure a better fan experience, which includes affordable pricing and payment plans that start around $35.

All Things Go has openly called attention to putting women and non-binary individuals on the stage, but how is the organisation supporting and engaging those groups working in roles behind the scenes?

CW: Two of our longstanding partnerships are with Women in Music and Amplify Her Voice. These collaborations help us prioritise inclusion month after month. Women in Music supports us in organising the Creator Summit, a panel series held the night before our festival. This event highlights leading women in music, media, and technology. Through our partnership with Amplify Her Voice, we launched a program last year that provided hands-on backstage experiences to over 20 young women and at last year’s festival — an incredibly impactful opportunity for seeing first-hand what happens behind the scenes.

What’s the most memorable bit of feedback you’ve received in the 10 years of programming?

WS: In 10 years of programming, every year has brought new hurdles and new opportunities. We realised a few years into the festival that we need to really listen to and trust our fans. We take our post-festival fan survey very seriously and have launched a few iterations of an ATG fan club to really connect with those fans year-round. It’s ongoing feedback, year after year, on how we can improve our lineups in addition to the overall experience at the festival from the people who are buying the tickets.

“At the very least, ensure you book 50% female or non-binary acts — there is so much talent out there across genres”

Your planning process begins before the previous year’s edition takes place. Can you speak about keeping up with trends in your lineup curation process and how you are set to deliver your biggest offering yet?

WS: The planning process never really ends for the festival. We’re constantly discovering and listening to new music from emerging artists in addition to setting calendar milestones for established artists’ album releases, shows/tours and other festival appearances. The more we’re able to consume and monitor, the better — and it feels like there is more quality across music being released and live shows performed than ever before.

How would you describe the atmosphere of the festival to those who’ve never attended?

SV: The atmosphere at All Things Go is a reflection of our vibrant community, made up of both dedicated fans and boundary-pushing artists. It’s a unique and indescribable energy that covers the festival grounds. Most artists have commented on stage about the distinctiveness of All Things Go compared to other festivals. Our fans are united by a deep love for live music and a common ethos. We stand for something meaningful, and we strive to curate a festival experience that minimises scheduling conflicts and emphasises special moments that fans will remember forever.

In 2023, you hosted the first Creator Summit and brought together voices from the entertainment, music, political, and activism realms. Are there plans to continue this event, and can you highlight any major takeaways from last year?

CW: Yes! The Creator Summit is a significant part of our festival weekend, providing festival attendees with the ability to hear impactful voices from music, media and technology. The event provides a meaningful platform for engaging dialogue for our fans.

Your lineup has been female-driven since Maggie Rogers curated an all-female festival in 2018. Many festivals are still struggling to offer a diverse and balanced bill — what do you have to say to them?

CW: I would say, “Come on! The people want it!” We’ve sold out three years in a row, very fast, with a mostly female lineup. At the very least, ensure you book 50% female or non-binary acts — there is so much talent out there across genres. Once you prioritise inclusion your community will be stronger because you platform voices that usually don’t get the stage.

Describe how you’d like to see All Things Go evolve in the next 10 years.

SV: We aim to further support the next generation of artists and fans by championing their creativity not only through our annual festival but also through our expanding digital platforms. We’re allocating more and more resources to avenues such as newsletters, podcasts, and technology-driven initiatives. Our goal is to enable our community to connect and engage with each other seamlessly, regardless of where they live and beyond the festival weekend.

 


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Extreme weather washes out another US festival

A US festival has become the latest victim of weather-related complications, with California’s Sol Blume postponed two weeks before it was set to take place.

Organisers of the Sacramento-based festival, which was originally set for 3-5 May, pointed to lasting effects from the torrential rain that drenched the state in late February. This is the second consecutive year the festival has been delayed due to extreme weather.

“Mother nature has once again caused commotion and created conditions at the festival site that render it unsafe to build on,” organisers said in a press release. “Although the park is no longer flooded, the damage remains. Due to significant site damage and growing safety concerns, we will not be able to host this year’s festival.”

The fifth edition of the festival, which expanded from two to three days this year, has been pushed to 15-17 August 2025. Organisers have also confirmed that future editions are to be held in the late summer instead of spring to avoid “any weather-related conflicts in the future”.

It is not clear whether the lineup — which included SZA, Snoh Alegra, and Kaytranada leading the bill — will remain the same.

“Even if we prepare for everything, you still can’t really control that”

The 2023 edition, which was deferred from April to August for weather-related impacts, was headlined by Brent Faiyaz and Kehlani. That year, the R&B festival recorded its biggest-ever turnout with 46,000 people attending across two days, as reported by promoters ENT Legends.

The cancellation is the latest example of the impact of extreme weather on live music. Over the past year, several festivals — including Germany’s Wacken Open Air, Spain’s Primavera Sound Madrid, the US’s Ultra Miami, and Australia’s Good Things — have been impacted by ‘freak’ and extreme heat-related incidents, as insurance queries and rates have correspondingly risen.

In the US, adverse weather coverage has “increased significantly” in the last five years, according to Jeff Torda from Higginbotham. Backing this point, a recent Billboard article claimed premiums in North America had tripled in recent years.

The latest edition of ILMC also saw industry leaders discussing ways to cope with the impact of weather on festivals and open-air live music events.

“Thirty years ago, it was mostly the rain, but it’s now changed to raining one second and being 35 or 40°C suddenly after that,” said May Ling of Australia’s Chugg Entertainment. “Even if we prepare for everything, you still can’t really control that.”

 


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Glastonbury to debut South Asian stage in 2024

The UK’s Glastonbury Festival will unveil its first-ever dedicated South Asian stage at this year’s event.

The stage, named Arrivals, will feature the likes of Anish Kumar, Baalti, Nabihah Iqbal, Gracie T, Nikki Nair, Bobby Friction and Raji Rags.

Designed by South Asian cultural organisations, Arrivals will be part of the Shangri-La area of Glastonbury.

The announcement follows rising calls for greater representation of British Asian music and artists.

“This is a seminal moment for UK festival culture,” says DJ and presenter Bobby Friction, who runs Going South, an organisation that helped to bring the space to life alongside Dialled In and Daytimers.

“This is a seminal moment for UK festival culture”

“South Asian and British Asian music have had their own small festivals over the years and some Asian artists have performed in the big gatherings that are now a quintessential part of a British Summer,” he says. “But a full on Glastonbury space dedicated to South Asian music, beats and DJs for the entire festival? That’s just crazy and a personal dream come true.”

“Shangri-La is all about creating space, so through the incredible platform of Glastonbury we are able to bring in, nurture and showcase fresh global talent right alongside some of the UK’s absolute legends,” adds creative director Kaye Dunnings. “We’re in our 17th year, and it feels like the most fresh and exciting lineup we’ve ever had. What a privilege, and what a show it’s going to be!”

Glastonbury 2024 will take place at Worthy Farm in Pilton, Somerset, between 26-30 June. Coldplay, Dua Lipa and SZA will headline this year’s instalment, with Shania Twain occupying the coveted Sunday teatime “legend slot”.

The bill will also include the likes of LCD Soundsystem, PJ Harvey, Little Simz, Burna Boy, Janelle Monáe, Cyndi Lauper, Michael Kiwanuka and Seventeen, who will become the first K-pop act to perform on the Pyramid Stage.

Tickets for the festival, which cost £355 per person, sold out in under an hour when they first went on sale in November.

Resale tickets are available on Sunday however organisers have warned they’re “very limited” and coach resale tickets sold out in 18 minutes when they went on sale on Thursday.

 


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DHP Family’s charity festival raises £81k for unhoused

DHP Family’s charity festival Beat The Streets has announced its January event raised £81,600 for the unhoused population across the East Midlands region of England.

All proceeds raised by the one-day festival go to Framework, a Nottingham-based charity that provides a network of support for at-risk and homeless individuals in the region. Since its inception in 2018, the multi-venue event has raised £490,600 for the charity.

This year, funds will be dedicated to supporting the charity’s Street Outreach team, which engages with the local homeless community daily. Money raised during Beat The Streets will “cover a large part of the cost” to help secure a quarter of the team, which came under risk after Nottingham City Council reduced funding to the charity, said Framework’ CEO Andrew Redfern.

“The level of rough sleeping continues to rise relentlessly,” Redfern says. “Funds raised at the 2024 festival back in January will help us maintain the outreach team who work with people on the streets of Nottingham every day of the year.”

“We’ve been able to make another significant contribution to the hard work that Framework do, at a particularly vital time”

Nottingham’s rough sleeper population is growing nearly 20% every year, per Framework, as the housing association works to provide housing, health, employment support, and care services to 18,500 people per year.

The festival’s seventh annual, which took place on 28 January, featured special guests Beats on Toast, Fat Digester, Lois, George Gadd + The Aftermath, along with more than 50 local artists. All proceeds from tickets, bar purchases and merchandise went directly to Framework.

“The funds raised each year at our event make a tangible difference to the lives of homeless people in the area, and thanks to everyone who attended, performed at, and worked on our 2024 event, we’ve been able to make another significant contribution to the hard work that Framework do, at a particularly vital time,” says DHP Family’s MD George Akins.

Beat The Streets is delivered by DHP Family in collaboration with local organisations and music groups, including I’m Not from London; Farmyard Records; Hockley Hustle, and Rough Trade.

DHP Family also owns and operates the 25,000-capacity Splendour Festival — which has been cancelled for 2024 — and multiple venues across the UK. The organisation also promotes concerts and tours while also operating independent ticketing platform alt. tickets.

 


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Man sentenced for hanging grenade on festival fence

A man has been sentenced to two years in prison for attaching a grenade to a fence at Dutch festival Electronic Picnic.

The incident took place in Leeghwaterpark, in the municipality of Purmerend, on the evening of 14 July 2023.

“At the beginning of the evening, one of our security guards found a suspicious object outside the festival site,” the event organisers said at the time. “We immediately cordoned off the area and informed the authorities. They responded alertly and through good cooperation the object was secured. We now know that this had nothing to do with the festival.”

The Explosive Ordnance Disposal Service removed the grenade, which was secured with a tie-wrap, and the festival continued as normal.

The court is still unclear on the man’s motive for hanging the grenade

Shortly afterwards, the 26-year-old man from Edam-Volendam was arrested in his home.

The court noted that the man created a life-threatening situation: “If someone were to remove the hand grenade by pulling on it, the safety pin with the pull ring would remain on the tie-wrap, which would have detonated the grenade.”

The court is still unclear about the man’s motive for hanging the grenade, though the man’s lawyer indicated that his client was suffering from a “drug psychosis” at the time.

In addition to the prison sentence – eight months of which are conditional – the man will receive a probationary period of two years.

More than 30 artists performed across three stages at Electronic Picnic 2023, which was the 11th edition of the festival.

 


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Mad Cool reveals improvements for 2024

Mad Cool has detailed a series of improvements that will be made to the festival ahead of the 2024 edition.

The Madrid event last year “successfully” relocated to the Iberdrola Music venue in the capital’s Villaverde District.

The festival will return to the site for this year’s edition but will take place across four days instead of three to “minimise overlaps between artists”.

The 10–13 July edition will also have six stages instead of eight to minimise schedule clashes and prevent sound leaks across stages.

The festival’s capacity, meanwhile, will be reduced from 70,000 to allow for a better crowd flow around the site

The festival’s capacity, meanwhile, will be reduced from 70,000 to allow for a better crowd flow around the site. Organisers say the final capacity is yet to be determined.

Other changes include more bathroom facilities, water supply points, wristband charging points and chill-out areas.

More food options will also be added to the restaurant area, as will more bar spaces. Screens around the stages will also be larger than before, and more will be installed.

Finally, there have been improvements to accessible areas, improving the festival experience for individuals with disabilities and/or functional diversity.

The seventh edition will be headlined by Dua Lipa, Pearl Jam, Måneskin and The Killers. The Smashing Pumpkins, Janelle Monáe, Motxila 21, Sum 41, Jessie Ware, Black Pumas, Tom Morello, Bring Me The Horizon and Avril Lavigne are also set to play.

 


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ILMC 36: Festival heads discuss headliner drought

European festival organisers came together at ILMC 36 to discuss the sector’s biggest challenges, including the lack of available headliners.

Cindy Castillo, Mad Cool (ES), Jim King, AEG Presents (UK), Jess Phillips, Untitled Group (AU), Jan Quiel, Wacken Open Air (DE) and Annika Hintz, Superbloom (DE) took the stage for Festival Forum: Headline Topics, moderated by UTA’s Jules De Lattre.

“The challenge across all my UK business has been the availability of headline talent,” said King. “When they’re prepared to confirm, how we can get that show announced and then the sales window that we’re dealing with. The shows we’re putting up are selling very strongly. The demand is there, it’s supply that’s an issue.”

Castillo added: “The most difficult thing this year has definitely been booking headliners and being able to deliver a good lineup. The time between sending our first offer and getting a headliner confirmed was the longest period ever. This is due to many circumstances: the cost, production, dates, not wanting to tour, saturation of the market.”

“The demand is there, it’s supply that’s an issue”

De Lattre suggested the lack of headliners was partly down to the boom in arena and stadium tours.

“Major artists have less of a financial incentive to play festivals since the headline touring business is more rewarding than ever,” he said. “You’ve got higher income on a headlining tour, you’ve got better routes and full control of your production.”

King added: “More acts need to tour festivals and that’s the most urgent issue we have to address.”

Phillips, from Australian promoter Untitled Group, added that it’s not just the availability of headliners that’s an issue but the “astronomical” cost of bringing them to her country. “The problem with that is our breakeven just skyrockets,” she said.

Phillips believes this is the reason why festival cancellations in Australia are mounting: “What we’ve seen recently is festivals putting all their money into securing a good headliner and then collapsing eight days after going on sale because they can tell from that they’re not going to get anywhere near that breakeven.”

“We worry too much about ticket price and not enough about the value of the ticket”

While rising costs are still an ongoing concern in the sector, panellists said they were determined to find solutions.

“There are bits and pieces to cover those costs,” said Jan Quiel. “We’ve been doing VIP packages and making a little extra on glamping, which we only started doing a couple of years ago.”

Castillo adds: “The only possible solution is to get creative about it and face new challenges with new solutions. We can’t control the situation because it’s a world thing, not a local thing.”

King argued that festival organisers should be “concentrating more on value than they do on cost”.

“We need to convince people that going to a festival will be just as much of an enriching experience as going on holiday”

“The first natural reaction when costs go up is to have less – less stages and smaller production,” he said. “If you reduce the value, you reduce the experience and then you’re on a downward spiral. I think if you look at the most successful festivals, they’re actually adding more value to the ticket. We worry too much about ticket price and not enough about the value of the ticket.”

“That doesn’t address the attrition rate, which is always going to be high. There will be more shows that fail because the barrier to entry, financially, is so high and the risk point is so high. I think it’s devastating. But that’s the direction of travel. I think it’s very difficult to change.”

Phillips agreed, adding that the value of a festival needs to match that of a holiday: “It can’t just be a stage and a hotdog stand, fans need to see an immersive experience. We need to convince people that going to a festival will be just as much of an enriching experience as going on holiday or spending your money on something else.

“We project the message that live music is just one element of our festivals and that there are many other activities. We want to deliver a whole other world, like a holiday destination. And that’s what we’re seeing is the most successful outcome.”

 


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UK festival Boardmasters granted capacity increase

UK festival Boardmasters is set to increase its capacity to 58,000 this year after its licensing application was partially accepted.

The Cornwall Council approved the Newquay-based festival’s capacity rise by 5,000 to 2026 following an extensive hearing with the licensing committee.

“Thank you to Cornwall Council, the residents who took time to provide their valuable feedback and to all of the relevant parties who have supported us on this journey,” says festival founder Andrew Topham.

But the capacity for the music and surf festival will remain at 58,000 — including staff, performers and non-ticket holders — through 2026 after council members voted to curtail further capacity increases.

The Superstruct-backed event’s initial planning application proposed increases up to 66,000 by 2026, which sparked concerns over traffic congestion and public safety.

“I certainly appreciate the economic impact that this event does bring to the county, but I have to look at safety”

“Is there any point in increasing the numbers until we know that these new plans will work?” asked local councillor Joanna Kenny.

The annual event has perennially expanded, hosting 14,000 attendees in 2014, with Topham telling the committee the team has continuously “invested into the safety and infrastructure of the festival”.

“We want to add more and more layers of security, traffic management and anything that enhances the festival operation but to do that ultimately means more capacity,” Topham says.

In 2022, the five-day event, headlined by George Ezra, Disclosure, and Kings Of Leon, brought in £40 million (€46m) into the local economy.

“I support any business that wants to expand as long as it’s done at the right time and in a safe way. I certainly appreciate the economic impact that this event does bring to the county, but from my perspective, I cannot focus on that — I have to look at safety,” says Ann Marie Jameson, council health and safety officer.

The 2024 edition is set for 7-11 August 2024, with Stormzy, Sam Fender, and Chase & Status topping the bill. Courteeners, Overmono, Royel Otis, Kate Nash, Holly Humberstone, Wunderhorse, Hedex, and Ewan McVicar add to this year’s lineup.

 


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South Africa to host ‘biggest country fest outside US’

A new two-day country music festival is coming to South Africa this autumn, in what organisers are calling one of the genre’s largest events outside of the US.

The inaugural Cape Town Country Music Festival is set for 26-27 October at the 60,000-capacity DHL Stadium. Since its first show in 2011, the stadium has hosted international acts including U2, Rihanna, Foo Fighters, and Justin Bieber.

American artists Kip Moore and the Zac Brown Band will lead the programme, with an array of local and international artists set to perform across the two days. US country stars Darius Rucker, the Brothers Osborne, and others will join the lineup, in addition to 10 South African artists.

The festival builds on recent success for country music in the African country, with Moore selling 44,000 tickets across three shows last spring in Cape Town and Pretoria.

“The door is now wide open for the entire country music genre”

“When we went to SA for the first time last year, the surprising part was it felt like a grassroots fan base that had been with us all along. There was a spark in that audience that I’ve been itching to light again,” Moore says.

Local DJ and Heroes Events producer Wimpie van der Sandt, who helped bring Moore to Africa in 2023, is producing the festival. The founder of Afrikaans-broadcasting BOK Radio made history last year as the first South African to receive a Country Music Association award nomination in the international country broadcaster category.

“The success we had last year with Kip Moore in South Africa proved there’s a vibrant and healthy country music scene over here. People in the music industry were sceptical when we explored the market, but we proved the concept and that gave us confidence to build the biggest country festival in the world outside the US,” van der Sandt says.

One of Moore’s managers, Gaines Sturdivant of Red Light Management, will serve as an executive consultant.

“Wimpie and I dreamt up this idea together on a napkin after watching Kip’s jaw-dropping success in South Africa last year. I am incredibly proud of the new ground Kip has plowed for country music and music in general.”

“CTC ’24 is the next iteration, and the door is now wide open for the entire country music genre,” Sturdivant says.

Tickets for the October event go on sale tomorrow, 16 February.

 


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Belgium’s Jazz Middelheim gets new operator

The City of Antwerp has selected a partnership between the Brosella and Paradise City festivals to relaunch the Jazz Middelheim festival.

First held in 1969, Jazz Middelheim hosted artists such as Van Morrison, Jamie Cullum, Patti Smith, Ludovico Einaudi, Jean “Toots” Thielemans, John Zorn, Wynton Marsalis, Wayne Shorter, Kenny Werner, Archie Shepp, Robin Verheyen and Cassandra Wilson.

It was most recently staged in 2022, but Jazz en Muziek – the non-profit organisation behind the festival – went bankrupt at the end of last year. Jazz en Muziek also staged Gent Jazz Festival, which was rescued by Greenhouse Talent.

The new version of Jazz Middelheim will take place this year on a small scale in Antwerp’s Den Brandt Park, before a full-scale edition in 2025.

Details for the 2024 edition are yet to be announced, although the organisers have stated their intention to extend the festival to two days in September.

The City of Antwerp was attracted by the “balance between tradition and innovation” proposed by Brosella and Paradise City

Meanwhile, the festival’s name is currently still being negotiated as the brand is owned by Flemish public broadcaster VRT.

A total of eight candidates came forward in response to the call for a new Jazz Middelheim promoter, launched in 2023 by the City of Antwerp.

The municipal authorities were attracted by the “balance between tradition and innovation” proposed by Brosella and Paradise City, as well as their “experience in organising events in a green park environment”.

“The Brosella festival is synonymous with a varied musical offering of urban ethno and jazz and many musical styles in between,” says the City. “It presents and produces musical projects by big names and young national and international talent. Every year, the Paradise City Festival marks the start of summer for fans of electronic music on the site of a castle and is recognised worldwide for its considerable efforts in terms of sustainable development.”

Antwerp’s councillor for culture, Nabilla Ait Daoud, adds: “We are looking forward to a festival that is both warm and intimate, that honours both the past and the future of jazz, and that puts Antwerp back on the international jazz map.”

Bert Schreurs, director of Brosella Festival, comments: “We want to combine classic, established jazz artists with DJs influenced by jazz. In this way, we hope to appeal to a younger audience. We are therefore joining forces with Paradise City.”

 


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