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DJAZZ: The Durham City Jazz Festival

Location: Durham City, multiple locations
Dates: 2017, 2018, 2019

Project Overview

DJAZZ: The Durham City Jazz Festival was an annual festival produced by AT THE ROOT and Empty Shop.

Established in 2017 to promote collaboration and diversity in the jazz scene, DJAZZ offered a fresh take on the festival format. Utilising a range of venues and pop-up spaces we aimed to find new ways to celebrate the genre and reach new audiences. As such the festival was different year on year, shifting and adapting in response to the city, the scene and our ever changing list of partners and collaborators.

The success of the festival was built upon collective organic development of the jazz scene in Durham and an appreciation for discovery that we had been cultivating as an organisation from day one. Each year the size of the festival doubled and each year it sold out. We attracted audiences from increasingly further afield and bigger and bigger names from the Jazz world, whilst always maintaining a core selection of local and student artists.

Partners and collaborators

Sustainability & approach

DJAZZ operated as a sustainable festival, meaning we didn’t rely on any one source of funding and built in self initiated income streams.

We committed to delivering a version of the festival no matter what and always priced tickets at a truly accessible level.

What Happened Next?

Preparations were well underway for the 2020 edition of the festival with locations, collaborations, programme and funding bids all in motion. However, the COVID-19 pandemic put a halt to any plans for a festival that year. The precarious nature of the time and combined with the benefit of being small and independent, meant we were able to simply stop. A decision we didn’t take lightly but given the circumstances and the nature of the festival we couldn’t see a way forward. DJAZZ may be back if and when the time is right, but for now it’s on indefinite hiatus.