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TD Halifax Jazz Festival could be seeking a new main-stage

The Art Gallery of Nova Scotia will move to a new, modern space on Halifax's waterfront
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(stock photo)

The TD Halifax Jazz Festival could be seeking a new main-stage home in the future due to the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia’s plans for a change of venue.

Andrew Killawee, chair of the festival’s board of directors, said recently that jazz fest officials “are not too concerned” should the event’s high-profile outdoor concerts need to be moved, “temporarily or otherwise.”

He acknowledged the board has known for months of the potential for development at the site of the festival’s waterfront stage.

“So the (art gallery) announcement was not a shock,” Killawee told “We are very happy for the AGNS folks,” he said in an email Thursday.

Killawee said jazz festival managers and counterparts from the Crown corporation Develop Nova Scotia, formerly the Waterfront Development Corp., are considering a “timeframe for (proposed) construction and what it means for the festival.”

About seven years ago, the jazz festival vacated its perch at the corner of Spring Garden Road and Queen Street because of construction space needed for the $57.6-million Halifax Central Library. (The former library building down the road, across from Halifax provincial court, sits vacant.)

The music fest’s main outdoor stage shifted across town to a parking lot on Lower Water Street, next to Bishop’s Landing. Earlier this month, the McNeil government announced the provincial art gallery intends to relocate to that waterfront site from its Hollis Street building.

Start and completion dates for the gallery project, which has reported would cost at least $130 million, have not been released.

Looking back, Killawee said the move from the library site “was pretty seamless.” He said “there’s no reason to think we couldn’t adapt once again.”

This year’s jazz festival runs from July 9 to 14. The event, which used to be known as the Atlantic Jazz Festival, is in its 33rd year and uses various venues to stage indoor and outdoor performances.

In the past, other outdoor concert sites have included a small park in the Hydrostone district in Halifax’s north end and Ferry Terminal Park in Dartmouth.

The move years ago to the parking lot on Lower Water Street was well received by festival-goers, as crowd-pleasing shows were held close to the waterfront boardwalk, hotels, restaurants and other downtown sites.

For jazz fest planners, it provided a larger space than the old Spring Garden Road and Queen Street spot. If the festival ends up leaving its Halifax Harbour-area venue, it would like to stay near the water.

“Music and the waterfront have proven to be a great mix,” Killawee said in his email.

The provincial government’s new art gallery is to be housed in a 13,000-square-metre building officials hope will attract twice as many visitors as the current

The province will pay the lion’s share of the project’s cost (up to $80 million); the federal government is to contribute $30 million.

Gallery leaders will need to come up with the remainder through fund-raising efforts.

Michael Lightstone is a freelance reporter living in Dartmouth


About the Author: Michael Lightstone

During a general-news career lasting close to 30 years, Michael LIghtstone has covered such things as politics, health matters, courts, labour issues and jazz concerts
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