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Commonwealth Games 2002

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Thursday, 9 August, 2001, 05:51 GMT 06:51 UK
Jazz to lift rural gloom
Brecon town during jazz festival
The festival attracts thousands of visitors
The Brecon Jazz Festival gets under way on Thursday lifting the gloom in a rural area of mid Wales which has been hard hit by foot-and mouth.

The festival, one of the premier events in Europe, is opening a night early with an extra concert by Van Morrison.

The appearance by the Irish singer was added as an extra fillip to the line-up of the festival which celebrates its 18th anniversary this year.

Van Morrison
Van Morrison: Extra concert

But there were protestations that the event - which attracts around 50,000 visitors to the market town - was going ahead in view of the culling of thousands of sheep on the Beacons over the past few weeks.

Powys has had 74 of the 114 cases in Wales to date, and tests are currently being carried out to see how far a cull of sheep on the Brecon Beacons should be extended.

The area has already lost the much-needed income from the Royal Welsh Show at Llanelwedd, Builth Wells, which was cancelled earlier this year because of the impact of the disease.

Brecon Jazz Festival chair Jill Brody, in her welcome to festival-goers on the official website said: "Your presence this year is particularly important to the economy of mid Wales in the context of the agricultural crisis.

"We are sure that you will all be sensitive to Brecon's rural environment, and will avoid livestock areas.

Earlier in the year the festival had been threatened when two major sponsors withdrew their backing.

Sheep being tested on the Brecon Beacons for foot-and-mouth
Tests are still being carried out on the Beacons
A campaign was launched to attract backing from local businesses, but the event was finally secured by a joint sponsorship effort from the Wales Tourist Board (WTB) and BBC Wales.

The WTB is providing grant aid, while BBC Wales has signed a three-year deal for TV and radio coverage of the popular festival.

The BBC said the deal - believed to be worth 75,000 - is part of its strengthened commitment to arts broadcasting in Wales.

The cost of staging Brecon Jazz is around 330,000 - with around half going towards attracting some of the world's top jazz names.

As well as Van Morrison, other highlights of this year's festival include veteran pianist Stan Tracey performing his Under Milkwood suite, South African pianist Abdullah Ibrahim and Grammy-winning American singer Dianne Reeves.

Previous headlining acts have included Sonny Rollins, Courtney Pine, Dr John, Andy Sheppard and George Melly.

See also:

12 Feb 01 | Wales
BBC deal rescues Brecon Jazz
12 Aug 99 | Entertainment
All that jazz in Brecon
19 Jul 99 | Africa
Jazz to the Lagos beat
28 Jul 99 | Entertainment
Jazz trumpeter Edison dies
13 Aug 00 | Wales
Jazz festival expects 50,000
17 Aug 99 | Wales
Drug arrests mar jazz festival
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