About Us - Board Of Directors - Accomplishments - Recognition


The St. John’s Jazz Festival (SJJF) was formed in April 2003 as a not-for-profit organization to promote the enjoyment and appreciation of jazz in Newfoundland and Labrador. The impetus for SJJF was provided by the success of the Hew Knoo Jazz Festival - the first St. John’s jazz festival held on August 10th, 2002.


The St. John's Jazz Festival will be identified as the driving force behind the perpetuation of jazz & world music in Newfoundland and Labrador.


The St. John's Jazz Festival builds greater awareness of & appreciation for jazz & world music & their traditions through a year-round program of educational & performance events.


  • To create opportunities for the public of all ages to learn about the diversity, history, & cultural traditions of jazz & world music.
  • To offer performance opportunities for emerging musicians and school-based bands.
  • To increase professional development opportunities for musicians of all ages and levels of expertise in areas related to composition, improvisation, performance, and business development.
  • To deliver education programs to high school students.
  • To establish opportunities for musicians of all ages to engage in networking, collaboration, & exchange opportunities with their local & visiting peers.
  • To provide opportunities for audiences of all ages to experience jazz & world music in community settings.
  • To establish a scholarship for emerging student jazz musicians in Newfoundland & Labrador.
  • To promote the enjoyment of jazz & world music as an instrument for building & enhancing community.

Board Of Directors

Executive Director

Kirk Newhook - Festival Producer /Artistic Director / Musician / Educator / Peer Mentor

Volunteer Board of Directors -

  • Sharon D. Pippy - Chair
  • Fred Colbourne - Treasurer
  • Bob Buckingham - Lawyer
  • Anne Fagan – Business Advisor
  • Angela Dawe – Education Liaison
  • Dr. Carl Eustace – Secretary
  • Herb Hopkins – Site Advisor
  • Eric Davidson – Business Advisor

    Honorary Chair

    John Nugent - NYJam / Brooklyn, NY
    Producer/Artistic Director of the Rochester Jazz Festival and the Stockholm Jazz Festival


December 2003 – Appointment of John Nugent as Honourary Chair of AJI
Native Newfoundlander, John Nugent, an internationally renowned jazz saxophonist, is currently the executive producer/artistic director of two international jazz festivals, the Rochester Jazz Festival (NY) and the Stockholm Jazz Festival (Sweden).

January 2004 – St. John’s Jazz Festival recognized as emerging festival in Canada
Jazz Festivals Canada recognizes the St. John’s Jazz Festival as an emerging festival in Canada and consequently invites AJI Executive Director Kirk Newhook to attend the annual conference of the International Association of Jazz Educators (IAJE) in New York City. Jazz Festivals Canada participates as part of the Government of Canada’s Department of Canadian Heritage delegation.

Liaison formed with JazzReach Performing Arts and Education Association, for the purpose of collaborating on educational programming within the Festival context.

February/November 2004 – Jazz Festivals Canada Booking & Blocking Meeting
Kirk Newhook travels to Vancouver, BC to discuss booking/blocking collaborations with other Canadian jazz festivals that lead to cohesive programming and efficient routing for jazz festivals and touring artists respectively. Artist and ticket pricing, best venues – seating capacity and atmosphere, expected ticket sales, artistic vision/integrity, and artists’ management/agent companies are some of the exciting topics.

July 2004 – AJI Executive Director mentored at Stockholm Jazz Festival
At the conclusion of the St. John’s Jazz Festival 2004, Kirk Newhook accepts John Nugent’s invitation to attend, as his guest, the Stockholm Jazz Festival. The St. John’s Jazz Festival is promoted in Stockholm, the Executive Director networks with performers and industry professionals at the Festival, and international performers are considered for future St. John’s Jazz Festivals.

An unexpected benefit of attending the Stockholm Festival, Stevie Wonder invites the Executive Director to meet and travel with Mr. Wonder’s band, which perform at the Stockholm Festival and the Pori International Jazz Festival (Finland).

January 2005 – Executive Director attends the Association of Professional Arts Presenters (APAP) annual conference in New York City with Jazz Festivals Canada.
Resulting developments include introduction to main agents working with Jazz Festivals Canada for international artist bookings; obtaining samples of an inspiring assortment of modern jazz and world music; discussing a collaboration with the Atlantic Jazz Festival in Halifax that would feature musicians from St. John’s, Halifax and the rest of Canada; discussing educational programs utilized by other Jazz Festivals Canada members; initiating a relationship with Rochestor Jazz Festival’s Director of Talent Acquisition Juilus Lokin.

The Jazz Festivals Canada conference booth presents a unified front to the international jazz community.

June 2005 – AJI Chair and Executive Director attend 4th annual Rochester International Jazz Festival (RIJF) in Rochester, NY.
The RIJF is co-produced by John Nugent, honourary chair of the AJI. Mr. Nugent invited our attendance to this rapidly developing international festival so as to provide an opportunity to experience festival production on a scale much larger than found in St. John’s. Through this experience we were able to examine and critique many elements of the RIJF and decide how we could implement some of these into the St. John’s Jazz Festival. We were also able to liaise with many of the performers, thereby learning from their perspective of the RIJF as well as many Canadian jazz festivals that they have performed in. This also allowed us an opportunity to introduce and describe to them the SJJF, which may lead to future programming interests. We also networked with other personnel involved in the production of the festival, again gaining insight on their perception of the RIJF as well as informing them of the SJJF and its developments.

July 2005 – Executive Director attends Canadian Creative Music Week Networking Meetings during Vancouver International Jazz Festival.
A Canadian Heritage sponsored initiative; this meeting provided an excellent opportunity for the Atlantic Jazz Initiative to network with other festival and jazz presenters from around North America and Europe to discuss best practices, common hurdles and methods of overcoming problems associated with presenting jazz in smaller centers, relationships with artists and management companies.

July 2005 – Executive Director attends Jazz Festivals Canada AGM in Ottawa, ON.
Members of Jazz Festivals Canada meet to discuss previous festival season, JFC business, corporate and government funding sources, election of board of directors, selection, schedule and location of future meetings. Met with Canadian Heritage APC program’s Guylaine Normand to discuss changes in APC guidelines, policies and application.
SJJF Executive Director Kirk Newhook was elected to JFC board of directors to fill the position of treasurer.

August 2005 – Executive Director attends meeting hosted by City of St. John’s Tourism Department.
Sister-city relationship has been established between St. John’s, NL and Waterford, Ireland. Representatives from music festivals in Waterford were present in St. John’s, and all arts festivals within St. John’s were called to meeting to discuss best practices, and suggestions as to how the City of St. John’s could be more accommodating and supportive of artistic festivals taking place within the city. Findings from this meeting were passed along to the City of St. John’s Arts Advisory Board.

Canada Council for the Arts – Flying Squad - Funding to hire consultant, Terry Hickey to develop a 3-5 year Business/Strategy Plan

November 2005 - Funding from Service Canada for New Office and Staff

Service Canada secured funding using the Job Creation Partnership Program to hire two full-time staff – Marketing and Promotions Coordinator – Heather Adams, Volunteer Coordinator/Administrative Officer – Suzan Finn, as well as to secure office space in St. John’s.

Collaboration with the St. John’s Northwest Rotary Music Festival to produce a concert to be featured in both festivals in ‘06.


  • National

Recognized by Jazz Festivals Canada, a member-driven not-for-profit national arts service organization whose mandate is to represent the interests and act as advocate for the development of Canadian jazz festivals and jazz presenters.

“…an emerging festival in your region that has laid solid groundwork and shows strong promise in developing into a significant national/international event”.
Robert Kerr - Executive Director; Jazz Festivals Canada

(Click here to view their letter of endorsement).

  • International

John Nugent - Executive Producer of NYJam and expatriate Newfoundlander becomes Patron Supporter of the Atlantic Jazz Initiative.

Recognized by NYJam - the Executive Producer of the Rochester Jazz Festival and the Stockholm Jazz Festival. John Nugent, internationally renowned jazz saxophonist, is a native of Newfoundland and is now responsible for the production of these two very major jazz festivals.

"As a Newfoundlander who currently organizes two major events in the USA and in Scandinavia, I see a lot of potential in what Kirk is doing for the community at home and I am prepared to help him with as much support and information as possible to see him successful".
John Nugent - Producer/Artistic Director, Stockholm Jazz Festival, NYJam

(Click here to view their letter of support).
(Click here to view their letter of invitation).