SAVANNAH, Ga (WSAV) – Jazz musicians are constantly composing on the spot. However, this year, organizers of the Savannah-Safe Jazz Festival have been forced to improvise because of the pandemic.
Now in its 39th year, the event is going virtual. WSAV has partnered with the festival to livestream all 16 performances online, Wednesday through Sunday.
“We’ve always been a bit more regional in our outreach. I think the rest of the country and, to some degree, the rest of the world will take a look at Savannah and see us on a different playing field than they had envisioned this small southern town,” said Howard Paul, a musician and the board president.
The director of the Savannah Jazz Festival, Paula Fogarty, said 50,000 people attended the event last year. This year, 500,000 people worldwide could potentially watch performances online.
A maximum of 24 attendees will be picked to watch each concert in-person at the Ships of the Sea Maritime Museum.
Paul said they can expect to see a smaller stage presence, more social distancing between artists, and less interaction between the production crew and the bands — all of whom were required to drive to the venue rather than fly.
Organizers rely on a band of donors and a grant from the City of Savannah to host the festival. They hope with their online exposure that they will secure Savannah’s future as a major player on the world stage.
“What this virtual audience is going to help with is really the recognition of the City of Savannah, that we are truly the global Hostess City, we are a leader in bringing people great music and bringing people the arts, especially now in these really trying times,” said Fogarty. “We need to feel good, and nothing moves people more than music.”
Visit here to see a schedule of the performances.