Guinness Cork Jazz Festival director’s ‘contract terminated’

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The Irish jazz world has been shaken by the sudden departure of Sinéad Dunphy (pictured), director of Cork’s Guinness Jazz Festival. Barely into the second year of what was announced as a three-year rolling contract, Dunphy was dismissed for reasons unexplained. An unsigned press release from Diageo, the company that owns Guinness (sponsors of the festival for nearly 40 years), thanks her for her contribution and says: “We wish to maintain the momentum achieved over the past number of years to deliver another great event this October”, without giving any details.

Dunphy received enthusiastic reviews (including from this magazine) for her 2018 festival, and noted that she not only succeeded artistically but delivered a profit. Her response now is, “I have been left with no option but to place the circumstances of my termination in the hands of my solicitors”, declining any public comment. Events company Verve Live Agency (no connection with the record label), which administers all of Diageo’s sponsorship contracts, merely stands behind the bland press release. The response of concerned musicians, including some who were in discussions about appearing in 2019, tends to assume that it’s all allegedly about money and, in this case, it seems they may well be right.

– Brian Priestley
– Photo by Miki Barlok