The European Jazz Conference 2020, due to take place between 10 and 13 September 2020 at the National Palace of Culture in Sofia, Bulgaria, has been cancelled.
The EJN Board of Directors and AtoZ Foundation – the host of the 2020 European Jazz Conference (EJC) – have been in ongoing discussion since May regarding the feasibility of organising the EJC in Sofia in September as planned. We have also been exploring all possible alternative situations for the event. After many consultations and discussions, it has been decided to cancel the European Jazz Conference in Sofia this year and to try, instead, to organise the European Jazz Conference in Sofia, Bulgaria, in 2022.
At the centre of our discussions were two key guiding principles: the need for all participants to feel safe and comfortable travelling to, and participating in, the conference in Sofia this September; and the importance for both EJN and the Bulgarian hosts to have a successful Conference and to present the city of Sofia and the Bulgarian jazz scene in the best possible way, especially considering that it would have been the first visit to Bulgaria for many international participants.
During these months of lockdown, we have closely followed the development of the Covid-19 pandemic and the various limitations for international travel imposed by many countries in Europe. It was essential for us to be in a position to guarantee that participants could travel safely and confidently to Sofia without issues, and without having to spend a quarantine period after returning home.
Unfortunately, now that we are less than two months away from the planned Conference dates, in some countries travel and social distancing limitations are still in place with no clear indication of when they will be lifted. Inviting hundreds of international participants to the EJC (last year at our Conference we had 375 international delegates from 39 different countries), given the unpredictability of the situation and the speed in which things are changing due to the pandemic, has been deemed too risky. We felt that the atmosphere in Sofia would not be as joyous and relaxed as we want all of our European Jazz Conferences to be.
The EJN Board has therefore decided, together with the host, to cancel the European Jazz Conference 2020 in Sofia. This has been a very hard decision, and we all worked until the very last moment to try to make it happen. We truly thank the hosts, AtoZ Foundation and the National Palace of Culture in Sofia, for their understanding and for the proactive role they played in continuing to organise the Conference during these months despite the difficult circumstances and the limitations that the pandemic was imposing. The EJN Board has decided that, if the host is interested, they will have the priority (= right of first refusal) to organise the Conference in 2022, and we really hope we will all be able to go to Sofia at that time.
EJN Members will participate in the formal annual General Assembly of members (GA) for the first time fully online during the month of September 2020, and a series of online activities and working group meetings for EJN members will be organised during this autumn and winter, in order to progress some of the key EJN activities from remote, and, if it will be possible and safe, through smaller-scale “physical” meetings.
The location and dates of the European Jazz Conference 2021, that will take place in its usual shape in the month of September 2021, will be announced publicly straight after the GA 2020.