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Friday, 10 August, 2001, 09:26 GMT 10:26 UK
Jazz festival on despite farmers' fears
Brecon, mid Wales
Thousands flock to the market town for the Jazz celebration
Organisers of the Brecon Jazz Festival have insisted that the event will carry on despite the recent confirmation of new cases of foot-and-mouth in mid Wales.

Farming leaders have called for the event to be cancelled following the news on Thursday that 3,500 sheep are to be culled on the Brecon Beacons.

Disinfectant mats at Brecon
Disinfectant mats are in place

But leaders of the festival have said that they are taking every precaution to avoid the spread of the disease.

They claim this years event - which is expected to attract over 50,000 people to the market town - is vital to the local economy and cancellation would have threaten future festivals.

Chair of the festival, Jill Body said: "For the town I think it would have been fairly devastating.

"A lot of businesses would have had to give-up because there has been no income in the area."

Brecon itself is in the heart of the current outbreak really and I do feel that it is ver insensitive for the organisers to proceed with this event

Gwyn Williams from the FUW
The festival, which is one of the premier events in Europe, opened a night early with an extra concert by Van Morrison on Thursday.

But the official launch of the jazz festival takes place on Friday as the Brecon cull gets under way following positive test results.

Gwyn Williams from the Farmers Union of Wales (FUW) said: "Brecon itself is in the heart of the current outbreak really and I do feel that it is ver insensitive for the organisers to proceed with this event."

Powys has had 74 of the 114 cases in Wales to date and has already lost the much-needed income from the Royal Welsh Show at Llanelwedd, Builth Wells, which was cancelled because of the impact of the disease.

Van Morrison
Van Morrison: Extra concert

Months before the threat of foot-and-mouth disease took hold, plans for the festival were thrown into doubt after two major sponsors withdrew their backing.

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 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
09 Aug 01 | Wales
Jazz to lift rural gloom
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