Arts & Entertainment » Art

Rochester Jazz Festival 2021 has been canceled

By and

After an attempt to save this year’s edition of the CGI Rochester International Jazz Festival by pushing it back a month and moving the location from downtown to the  Rochester Institute of Technology campus in Henrietta, the event’s producers announced Monday that they were canceling the event.

Organizers said the festival would now be postponed by nearly a year to June 17-25, 2022 — although it was not immediately clear where it would be staged.

“We will be back next year and are committed to making every effort to move forward in downtown Rochester and also explore expanding the festival with programming at Rochester Institute of Technology,” co-producer Marc Iacona said.

The cancellation marked the second year in a row the festival would not take place. 

Last year’s festival was to be staged, as it usually is, in late June. The onset of the pandemic forced its postponement, first to October 2020, and then later, to July 30 through Aug. 7 this year at the RIT campus.

Iacona and his co-producer, John Nugent, announced in February that they were moving the festival to RIT to better adhere to state health guidelines.

That decision was widely panned by longtime festivalgoers and downtown business owners, who said they enjoyed and counted on the nine days of life the event injected into the city’s downtown core.

RELATED: Rochester Jazz Festival heads to the suburbs

The relocation would have been an economic blow to the city, particularly East End bars and restaurants that serve as venues for the event, which organizers estimate draws upward of 200,000 people annually.
Trombone Shorty performed at the East/Alexander Stage as part of the 2013 Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival. - FILE PHOTO
  • Trombone Shorty performed at the East/Alexander Stage as part of the 2013 Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival.
The jazz festival is the latest of Rochester’s festival staples to cancel in 2021. Organizers for the Corn Hill Arts Festival and the Park Avenue Festival recently announced that they would hold off staging their events this year.

Nugent cleanly outlined the problems faced by the jazz festival in announcing the latest postponement.

“My heart is heavy,” Nugent said. “All of our colleagues, with whom we book much of the amazing talent we present, postponed their festivals months ago. We did not want to throw in the towel but we are now left with no viable alternatives.

“As we tried to plan, the plethora of logistical barriers including capacity limits, border closures, artists reluctant to travel, limited availability of talent to book, visas for international artists now invalid, and more.”

Holders of Club Passes for the canceled jazz festivals may redeem them at the events in either 2022 or 2023, organizers said. Club Passes for the 2022 festival will go on sale in October.

Organizers said festival updates and answers to frequently asked questions will be provided on the festival’s website at

David Andreatta is CITY's editor. He can be reached at [email protected].

Jeff Spevak is the arts and entertainment editor at WXXI News, a media partner of CITY.