Cork Guinness Jazz Festival director looks to future

The Cork Guinness Jazz Festival’s new programme director, Sinead Dunphy, says she hopes to bring a more long-term approach to planning one of the city’s biggest annual events.

This week it emerged that Ms Dunphy, manager of the Cork Choral festival, will replace long-time artistic director Jack McGouran.

Ms Dunphy told the Irish Examiner that the new role, which begins next week, is the “perfect progress” for her career.

“It was an organic process, I had previously worked in PR with the Opera House, and met with Michael Lyons [Diageo sales manager], who said they want a director based in Cork,” she said.

“I’ve really enjoyed my tenure at the Choral festival, but despite being in a choir in school, it was never a field I was engaged in academically, whereas jazz is right up my street. In a previous life, I booked gigs in Cork and Waterford that were more jazz and blues.”

Ms Dunphy said she will look to curate a jazz-centric lineup and boost tourism to the city for the event by engaging with other international jazz festivals.

“In Cork, we say ‘this is the real capital’, and I don’t see why we can’t be an international capital of jazz, maybe not in 2018 or 2019, but definitely in years to come,” she said.

As part of this approach, Ms Dunphy said she will seek to marry the planning of the festival with a two-to-three year business planning strategy that will see headliners booked well in advance of each year’s event.

“I’ll be looking to go to expos and have headliners in place by April or May, whereas in previous years they may have been booked a little later in the year,” she said.

An estimated 40,000 people attended last October’s festival, which included a free open-air concert at Emmet Place, a Jazz Parade on Washington St, and hundreds of jazz performances in venues across the city. This year will mark the 41st year of the festival, which was founded by Jim Mountjoy, the then-marketing manager of the Metropole Hotel.

Mr McGouran could not be reached at the time of going to press.

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