City Park Jazz Cancels Its 2020 Season, but Still Paying Musicians

City Park Jazz's 2020 season is canceled, but musicians will still be paid.
City Park Jazz's 2020 season is canceled, but musicians will still be paid. Kenneth Hamblin III
Every year, Denver residents look forward to picnicking and listening to jazz in City Park. This year, that won't be happening — not even once this summer.

“We’re just brokenhearted,” says Toni Nadal, executive director of the City Park Jazz board of directors. “At the same time, we know we’re making the right decision to protect our volunteers, musicians, vendors, sponsors and the entire community of 100,000 or more people who enjoy this long-running Denver institution.”

The board's decision came in the wake of Governor Jared Polis issuing his stay-at-home order, which he extended on April 6 through April 26.

While all ten concerts are canceled, the organization decided to pay the musicians — and will possibly host live-streamed versions of the shows.

“There wasn’t even a debate, honestly,” Nadal says. “City Park Jazz is a celebration of community, and it starts with the incredible talent Colorado has to offer. None of our musicians are playing gigs right now. In many cases, their sole source of income has been completely derailed. We’re in the blessed position to be able to make good on our end of the deal, even if we’re gonna have to work extra hard next year to make it up.”

If state and city ordinances allow it, City Park Jazz booking director Andy Bercaw, a partner-owner at the Oriental Theater, will host live-streamed events spotlighting those musicians from the independent venue.

“Obviously," Nadal notes, "It depends on whatever the city and state regulations are as we get into the summer."

Stay tuned.
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Kyle Harris has been Westword’s Culture Editor since 2016, writing about the arts, music and film.
Contact: Kyle Harris