Burnsville’s annual Art and All That Jazz Festival has been cancelled this year after a key sponsor pulled out, according to organizer and former City Council member Dan Gustafson.

In what would have been its 10th year, the day-long music festival and art fair was to be held in Burnsville’s Nicollet Commons Park on Aug. 17, headlined by Greg Adams and East Bay Soul.

The festival has lost a few sponsors over the years, Gustafson said, and this year Art and All That Jazz fell $20,000 short of its fundraising goal. The free event typically attracted 15,000 people to Burnsville’s “Heart of the City” each year.

“We had great sponsorship for a while and it just kind of diminished,” Gustafson said. “We haven’t really been able to pick up new sponsors along the way, and it kind of caught up with us.”

The free event costs about $50,000, Gustafson said. Burnsville-based Pawn America, the event’s largest sponsor, notified Gustafson in May it would not be participating this year.

The company was asked to contribute about $7,500 to Art and All That Jazz this year, according to Pawn America executive Chuck Armstrong. Instead, Pawn America will put those funds to towards local Boys and Girls Clubs and efforts to build a private high school.

Art and All That Jazz was one of Burnsville’s three “Legacy Events” that received additional city support, Recreation and Facilities Superintendent JJ Ryan said. A fourth Legacy event, the Heart of the City half marathon, became defunct several years ago because of lost sponsorship.

Gustafson, a businessman who ran a Minneapolis jazz club until 1991, said he was able to personally underwrite the festival in years past, but could not this year. Art and All That Jazz attempted charging admission in 2006 and 2007 to mixed results. Food and beverage sales suffered, Gustafson said, and hiring security complicated the event.

Fundraising is a challenge for many nonprofit events in the area, said Burnsville Fire Muster Chair Tom Taylor. The city also has dialed back its support for Legacy events, he said, making donations and sponsorship more vital.

“The donations and the sponsorship dollars have not bounced back as quickly as the economy has,” Taylor said. “There’s a lag.”

The Fire Muster brings about 20,000 people to Burnsville over five days in September. Pawn America is a longtime sponsor, Taylor said, and has committed to sponsoring again in 2013.

Art and All That Jazz will continue planning for next year’s festival, Gustafson said.

“It’s a big draw for the city,” he said. “There are folks I know…who put it on their calendar the day they get their calendar every year.”


Tony Wagner is a Twin Cities freelance writer.