Fort Langley Jazz and Arts Festival streamed several live, ticketed performances from Chief Sepass Theatre throughout the Labour Day long weekend. (Fort Langley Jazz and Arts Festival/Special to the Star)

Fort Langley Jazz and Arts Festival streamed several live, ticketed performances from Chief Sepass Theatre throughout the Labour Day long weekend. (Fort Langley Jazz and Arts Festival/Special to the Star)

Artists and audiences praise technical aspects of virtual Fort Langley Jazz and Arts Festival

Organizers estimate 7,500 to 12,500 people watched the festival online over Labour Day long weekend

The Fort Langley Jazz and Arts Festival went live during the Labour Day long weekend, and while audiences were not able to be physically present, organizers say the turnout of virtual viewers was high.

Founder Karen Zukas said the average stream was watched by an estimated three to five people each, which means that the total festival attendance this year was between 7,500 to 12,500.

“Quite a few people were sharing it on social media or having a backyard festival,” Zukas said. “People came together to enjoy it as an experience.”

Zukas said the typical retention rate, or how many people stuck with the stream and watched until the very end, for events like these is normally 50 per cent.

“Many people were watching all the way through and we saw 90 per cent retention rate during performances,” Zukas said, describing that number as “superb.”

COVID-19 prevented the festival to celebrate its third year in Fort Langley, forcing organizers to get creative and bring fans a safe and socially distanced option.

The online event had 17 pre-recorded performers, interviews with performers, a virtual artwalk, and two live streamed ticketed events including the All-star Blues Show hosted by Jim Byrnes with Taylor James Band and Tom Lavin & The Legendary Powder Blues, plus Saturday night show with Mimosa and Siobhan Walsh in her tribute to Aretha Franklin.

The biggest note from viewers that Zukas said she received was the high quality production value.

“People said it looked so professional – like a television broadcast – and that was our goal,” Zukas noted.

While a couple technical issues arose with the ticketed events, Zukas said everyone got in and the technical team came through to solve the problems.

She was also quick to point out that this year’s festival was as much for the performers as it was for the viewers – giving musicians an outlet to showcase their talents.

Taylor James, one of the festival’s performers, thanked the festival and crew for the outlet.

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“You put on a very pro show. I know it wasn’t easy navigating all the details. It felt so good to perform again,” James said.

Another performer, Laila Baili, called the virtual festival a job well done.

“Incredibly high production values, a fantastic job with the mix – definitely a cut above most of the virtual festivals I’ve seen thus far,” she said.

Because of the virtual success, Zukas added that there will always be an online component to the Fort Langley Jazz and Arts Festival.

“The festival shows and community spotlight videos will all be available on our YouTube channel next week for people to view and enjoy,” Zukas added. “There will be a small fee to download and view the headliner concert shows.”

People can visit www.fortlangleyjazzfest.com for videos and highlights from the festival.

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Email: ryan.uytdewilligen@langleyadvancetimes.com

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