By Emily Koch / email@example.com
Historic Bristol pub the Old Duke kicks off its 33rd free jazz festival this weekend – but it will be on a much smaller scale than in recent years.
Over the years the annual festival had grown into a large-scale event with an outdoor stage, attracting some of the finest performers around.
But this year, organisers say that due to a lack of financial support from some local businesses, they have had to scale it back.
This bank holiday weekend the festival will be held indoors at the pub in King Street, which is famous for its live traditional, New Orleans inspired jazz music.
In comparison to last year’s 15 acts, only nine will be taking part this year in a showcase of some of the venue’s favourite performers.
Old Duke owner Stuart Seydal, who organises the event, said that although some other local businesses had been “extremely supportive”, some others had not – even though many benefit from the money spent by the crowds who fill King Street for the event.
“We have run the event single-handedly in the past, but the festival gets bigger and bigger every year,” he said.
“The cost of running it has gone up exponentially, and it has become incredibly expensive. It’s the things like security and extra toilets that cost the money.
“With it getting so big, this year we needed more support than we ever had before. I have asked for financial help before, but this year when we didn’t get what we needed I thought, enough is enough. It’s beyond a joke now.
“I don’t want to stop it completely because this is the 33rd event, and it is such a tradition – but it is becoming quite a stress running it single-handedly.
“Rather than doing something like charging to get into the festival we thought we should just scale it back.
“It would have been nice if the businesses could have stepped up. From my point of view, it would make sense for them to do that but maybe I was asking for too much.
“I think, to be fair, some places have been restricted by the company that owns them, and it is not the individuals there that have made these decisions.”
But he said he would keep trying in future years to bring back the outdoor festival.
“This isn’t the end of the outdoor, larger scale festival,” he said.
“We will keep trying to get funding and will see how we can do it next year.”
In 2009 the pub, which puts on free music eight times a week, was named as one of the key venues in the history of traditional jazz music in the UK alongside the world-famous Ronnie Scott’s club in London and Buckingham Palace.
The Old Duke’s name is a reference to the American jazz musician Duke Ellington, though the pub is thought to have held the same name for centuries, and most likely previously referred to the Duke of Wellington.
The pub dates from about 1780 and is a grade II-listed building.
Artists such as Peter Roe and Beth Rowley began their careers at the venue and still perform there regularly. In the 1990s there was a campaign to save the pub after the former owners revealed plans to sell it.