The woman behind the Vancouver Jazz Festival quits her role

Respected throughout the jazz and improvisational music community for its passion and understanding of the genre, Rainbow Robert’s programming has brought incredible new talent to festival-goers.

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After 23 years with the Coastal Jazz & Blues Society, Rainbow Robert is stepping down as General Manager and Artistic Programming of the TD International Jazz Festival.

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She has held the position since 2018.

Robert began working with the jazz festival as a support for former executive director Robert Kerr, before moving into programming focusing on local programs. She took on a leadership role after the late founding artistic director Ken Pickering retired in 2017.

Respected throughout the jazz and improvisational music community for his passion and understanding of the genre, Robert’s programming has brought incredible new talent to festival-goers and audiences throughout the year. She also continued to develop and nurture local talent, giving local artists the kind of presence at the festival that brought them global attention.

Of particular interest to fans and musicians alike was his dedication to expanding the diversity of festival programming as well as educational and outreach collaborations with the Berklee Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice and the International Institute for Critical Studies in Improvisation and others.

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The 2021 festival featured 51 performances by women-led and non-binary groups and 41 by groups led by people of color. A total of 32,276 people attended the event.

“Rainbow will be greatly missed by the staff and the jazz community, and our goal is to continue to uphold the level of artistic excellence she brought to the organization,” said Coastal Jazz & Blues Society Executive Director , Nina Horvath.

The 35th TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival will take place from June 24 to July 3.

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Willie J. Johnson