NEWLY appointed Wangaratta Jazz and Blues Festival chairman Paul Squires will soon start early planning for next year’s 25-year anniversary event.
Mr Squires last week replaced Dr Max White as festival chairman.
While this year’s will be held in November, Mr Squires said ensuring the silver anniversary was memorable was foremost in the board’s plans.
“We are focused on that being the biggest and best ever,” he said.
Mr Squires brings an extensive background in local government and tourism to the festival which delivered record ticket sales and huge attendances last year.
He is a former director and acting chief executive of Wangaratta Council after working as chief executive of Lake Mountain Resort near Marysville.
Mr Squires recently became acting director of Moira Council after moving to Bundalong with his wife and two children.
He said the priority for the festival board was ensuring its artistic integrity was maintained.
“It is one of Victoria’s best festivals,” he said.
“It was one of the attractions for me to get involved.
“We are in a good financial position.”
Two years ago, the festival faced an uncertain future after plunging to a $124,000 debt.
Mr Squires was appointed for a 12-month term. Other new board members are Tony Rumble, Emma Routledge, Wendy Lester and Wangaratta councillor Tammy Atkins.
Catherine Wall, Fiona Macphee, Emma Jones and Frank Davidson remain on the board.
“We’ve got to make sure it remains the pre-eminent jazz festival in Australia,” Mr Squires said.
“We also need to engage the community and build relationships with business.
“I am very much community focused.
“I enjoy all forms of music and jazz is one of those.”