Chamber Promises to Continue 'Great' Jazz Event Downtown
The chamber says it does not plan to change the yearly event, except its name.
After severing ties with the original partners of Jazz Fest, Glen Ellyn Chamber of Commerce executive director Gerogia Koch said the decision to dissolve the group and continue a chamber-run jazz event was not about money.
The yearly summer event was started in an effort to attract foot traffic to downtown Glen Ellyn businesses by creating a garden oasis along Main Street featuring performances by acclaimed jazz musicians. But in May, the chamber announced it would continue its own event without the College of DuPage partners and White Space Design following a statement from the college's director of the McAninch Arts Center that stated, "The Glen Ellyn Chamber of Commerce has informed us of its intent to create a new event with an emphasis on raising funds for the chamber."
Not true, said Koch. It's about planning a quality event for the future, she said.
However, Koch explained the musical event costs nearly $50,000, which in some years ended up costing the chamber money, although she won't say how much. In some years there was a profit, which was put back into the next year's event.
"We're lucky if we break even," she said.
So while Koch does acknowledge that she does not want to lose money, she's adamant that finances did not spark the breakup, and will not change the emphasis of continued jazz in Glen Ellyn events.
"If we have to watch the bottom line to ensure a quality event for the future, then that's what we have to do," said Koch.
Some downtown business owners are concerned that the quality of the event might change without the College of DuPage partners. For some downtown business owners the news of losing the college's jazz radio station, WDCB, and host Ken Scott as a partner, was disappointing.
"He's like having Dick Clark on New Year's Eve," said Rich Ducar, owner of The Bike Shop.
Although he's upset about the changes, Ducar said he wants to remain positive about this year's new event. "I'm hopeful. I want to see it thrive for the community."
Koch said the event won't be new. In fact, she said everything will stay the same, if not improve. The landscaping and garden oasis will line Main Street like in past years. Hursthouse will not provide the landscaping. Koch said she's working out a contract with another vendor. The lineup is still in the works, and could be announced as soon as next week but Koch said a Grammy-winning jazz artist has agreed to play.
"I don't have any doubt in my mind that it will be a great event," said Koch.
But other downtown merchants aren't so sure. Despite Koch's assurance that this event isn't about raising money, Kathryn Hudson, owner of Knickers of Glen Ellyn, is afraid that money will be the sole focus.
"The reason this event was so magical was because they didn't cut corners and they didn't shave things off, or lose sight of any detail," said Hudson.
The July 14 event is now called Jazz in Glen Ellyn and will start around 3 p.m. and last until 10 p.m. Stay tuned to Patch for more details about the lineup.