July 18, 2014 5:19 pm
Updated: July 18, 2014 5:21 pm

Beaches Jazz Fest gets new stages, sponsors after funding snag

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TORONTO – Despite losing the funding it’s received for the last six years, the stage is set for the Beaches International Jazz Festival.

“I’d say 98 per cent we fulfilled our dream,” according to the festival’s executive producer, Lido Chilelli.

Festival organizers learned they had been shut out of the Celebrate Ontario Grant Programin March. It’s a grant they had received for the past six years.

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Global News found out about the shortfall and questioned Michael Chan, then-Minister of Tourism, and it wasn’t long when the province stepped up and granted $75,000 from the Ontario Music Fund.

Chilelli said that put a five-week delay in planning and prevented some bands and artists from being booked. But Chilelli said they are able to offer something new to the festival, thanks to new sponsors. For the first time, the festival will be a multi-stage event at Woodbine Park.

“We have three or four stages in addition to the main stage,” said Chilelli. “We have a latin stage, a big band stage, a youth stage and a party island stage.”

The youth stage was one of the programs at risk of being cut if funding didn’t come through.

“We really didn’t want to lose it. It’s a way to connect with the next generation of audience, music lover as well as performers,” said festival program coordinator Julie Christian.

Performers at the youth stage range from 8-20 years old. Twelve-year old Melissa Paju is performing at the festival for the first time.

“Its a big step towards pursuing my career in music and reaching out to a lot bigger things,” said Paju.

Nineteen-year old bass player Saya Gray has been part of the festival for four years.

“For me as an artist, it’s a huge way for myself to get out there in terms of my own music or playing with other people,” said Gray.

This is the 26th season for the Beaches International Jazz Festival. The free 10-day event attracts more than 800,000 fans each year.

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