CNY Jazz Mailing List

Sign up and stay on top of all the latest news.
Join now!




Berkshire Bank Salt City Summerfest will blanket downtown with the arts

Berkshire Bank Salt City Summerfestwill blanket downtown with the arts
Pop up arts festival will enlivendowntown Syracuse through September
It’s going to be a long, hard summer in Syracuse.

The remainder of the summer months will present an unprecedented challenge
for the culture and economy of the city’s downtown business district.

The benefits of the many free outdoor cultural celebrations that provide excitement and economic activity for residents, visitors, small business, restaurants, and local musicians and freelance artists of all kinds throughout the summer – festivals, concerts, special events, and fairs – are largely absent from the urban scene. The hundreds of thousands of festival goers whose spending generates significant sales tax income throughout the summer will be reduced to near zero. A second summer with no significant cultural activity is a major concern for all who depend on the vibrancy and vitality of our urban center to attract and retain employees, residents, and businesses.

To meet this unique and unprecedented level of need, CNY Jazz has createda unique festival – a new, innovative, and comprehensive cultural model that changesthis paradigm completely. The “Berkshire Bank Salt City Summerfest” will deliver small, acoustic, mobile cultural content in multiple locations chosen for their proximity to key business clusters – a model with little or no need for infrastructure yet deliver the same excitement and attraction of the arts, safe, compliant, and without public health risk.

“We are uniquely positioned to successfully deliver this model for Syracuse,”, said Larry Luttinger, founder and Executive Director of CNY Jazz. “Among other annual celebrations like Jazz in the Square, Jazz in the City, the Northeast Jazz & Wine Festival, the 2009 Healthy Buildings International Conference, and others, we’ve presented the only festival of this kind in Syracuse’s history, the 2013 CRAVE festival and state conference, which provided downtown with a weekend with dozens of pop-up arts engagement activities. We’re really excited at being able to blanket downtown with performances for the rest of the summer and into the fall.”

The event would not be possible without the strong support of a team of New York State legislators that believe in the value of the arts. Assembly members Al Stirpe, co-chair of the state’s economic recovery task force, Bill Magnarelli, and Pam Hunter have all provided support for the fest, as well as title sponsor Berkshire Bank and corporate supporters National Grid, Lockheed Martin Employees Federated Fund, C&S Companies, OneGroup, Fust Charles Chambers LLP, Bousquet Holstein, Bond Schoeneck & King, Washington Street Partners, and Critical Link.

“The summer festivals, music events and cultural celebrations we have all grown to know and love were stifled by the COVID-19 pandemic. The residual effects still impact our local artists, businesses and economy even as we are in the midst of recovering,” said Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh. “The idea to offer pop-up performances to help sustain Syracuse’s entertainment industry is one that I fully support. I am grateful that the CNY Jazz Arts Foundation continues to advocate and innovate in this space, and I look forward to the Salt City Summerfest reviving our community in a much-needed way.”

Al Stirpe commented, “I’m thrilled that Salt City Summerfest will fill the streets with music this summer. It’s critical that we support our local artists, restaurants and small businesses and make this a summer of revival for all. Salt City Summerfest is a cornerstone of that vision and will provide a wide variety of regular pop-up performances and activities to entertain residents and visitors alike. I want to thank CNY Jazz for organizing this innovative event series, as well as the corporate sponsors and my fellow CNY legislators, and also for helping reinvigorate our local arts community.”

Bill Magnarelli echoed that sentiment, saying “Celebrating summer with the arts is a wonderful way of investing in the economic and cultural environment of Central New York. As we recover from the pandemic, Summerfest offers a unique opportunity to draw people to our parks and landmarks, while also exposing them to the vast array of the arts and artists in our community.”

Pam Hunter added, “I welcome the innovative approach Salt City Summerfest is taking to bring events back to Syracuse for the summer of 2021. Their dedication to planning events in a responsible and safe manner will bring back summer activities for our community and will reengage our local businesses and artists who have had so many challenges throughout the last 15 months. I look forward to seeing which local artists will be participating.”

Chris Papayanakos, regional president of Berkshire Bank, said “Berkshire Bank is excited to support this new initiative by CNY Jazz. As the title sponsor of the annual CNY Jazz Festival over the last several years this city-wide summer long event is a terrific way to celebrate the local arts as we all emerge from the pandemic.”

The festival will present musicians, dancers, actors of all stripes on downtown sidewalks,
in locations including Hanover Square, Armory Square, Perseverance Park, the Marriott Downtown,
and Salt City Market, plus strolling musicians visiting sidewalk dining areas across the 13202 zip code.
A weekly schedule will present talent on Wednesday lunch hours and Fridays and Saturdays during weekend dining times, starting Friday July 23rd during Syracuse Artsweek, and continuing through Saturday September 11th,
taking the week leading up to Labor Day off.

A region-wide call for talent has already been announced,
and a full schedule of performances will be announced at a later date.

“The element of surprise will always be in the air during these days, “explained Luttinger about the
dozens of pop-up performances scheduled. “You could turn a corner or take a seat and be serenaded by a
singing guitarist, a bluegrass trio, a barbershop quartet, a dance routine, a jazz group, a Shakespeare soliloquy, or
a soul doowop group. Expect the spontaneous, as if you were walking New York City streets or traveling the subways. We’ll turn downtown into a street level mecca for the arts, while providing
paid employment for our area’s struggling gig workers when they need it most.”

All details and the ongoing festival schedule will be posted at, and interested artists may still register at that web site.