The FINANCIAL — The Black Sea Jazz Festival is one of those iconic European festivals that has gone a long way in defining the genre. Over the years it has become one of the largest and most influential in Georgia. This year Batumi will host the 13th Black Sea Jazz festival with a variety of world famous artists.
Giorgi Kereselidze, Director of Eastern Promotion and organizer of the Festival, talked with The FINANCIAL about this year’s event and its importance.
Q. Tell us about the Black Sea Jazz Festival and its importance for tourism development in Georgia. How has the publicity risen over the years that you have been holding the Festival?
A. The existence of a jazz festival of such a large international scale has implications for promotion of the country and does a great deal for tourism development. Based on the fact that the number of people attending the Batumi Jazz Festival has increased, we did research with the Revenue Service in 2015. The survey showed that in the July period, if the budget of the region was GEL 1 200 000 each day, more than 80 million was from the four days of the Festival alone.
It is very important for the development of internal tourism too. Many tourists visit the Festival, they are not ordinary tourists, they know in advance why they are coming to Georgia, they then spend much more money here, and subsequently do better advertising after going back to their own countries.
Nowadays the status of the Black Sea Festival is quite high, it holds a serious place in the list of European festivals, which in itself encourages performers to participate in the Batumi Festival.
Q. What about this year’s Jazz Festival programme?
A. Even though some performers are returning this year, the programme will be completely new. The group INCOGNITO is 40 years old and represents the programme dedicated to this date. On the 19th, the Georgian group MokuMoku will also perform in front of audiences. This is a very talented youth group with very interesting and sophisticated music. Group Kraak&Smaak will perform on the 19th too – a group which is very successful in many big festivals and already very popular in Georgia. So we are happy that they are our guests.
In terms of the other performers, they include: CORY HENRY & The Funk Apostles; DJ set: DJ Francis & MC Bluey; and DJ Machaidze.
From 18-20 July, three musically and emotionally lavish evenings await lovers of music and I hope that Georgians will be in a suitably excited mood to meet our guests.
Q. The Jazz Festival is a fantastic platform for allowing performers to spread their voice to the world. Are there any particular individuals or groups that you see as having the potential to become global artists?
A. For a small country like us it is difficult to showcase yourself in show business – we are not as economically strong as other small European countries. However, talent is not restricted by borders. With the help of the Festival, some of our artists have the opportunity to perform abroad at international festivals. It is normally very difficult to establish yourself in show business as it requires big funds. I therefore hope that in the near future there will be further opportunity for our talented musicians who have the potential to turn into world class musicians.
Q. As for the latest events in Georgia, how significant are the numbers of tourists from Russia for the Jazz Festival and what influence would these recent events have on the Festival?
A. I can not say that a very large number of Russian tourists have always attended our festivals. Most of the tourists are Ukrainians who already have a great tradition of visiting Georgia, also those from Azerbaijan, Armenia and other different countries. We try our best to offer a wide variety of line-ups to all categories of listeners.
As for the Russian factor, it doesn’t play a role in show business, but more generally our country will probably suffer losses in tourism that will affect economic growth. So we need to seek out a solution and alternative ways and directions.
Q. What are the main features an artist should have in order to participate in the Festival?
A. The main thing is for them to have a name, authority and professionalism that they are distinguished for – not personal qualities. If they have been among the top artists for years, then it means that their level is already quite high. This professionalism does not allow them to relax and they are constantly developing.
As for Georgians, in our country it is difficult to work in this field, and you should love your work in order to stay, move forward and constantly develop. Those who have worked in this field for years are very much appreciated. The love and appreciation of listeners is perhaps the greatest gain in this case. This is the right force that drives you to do something new and make your audience happier.