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Checks bounce for performers at Kansas City Jazz Fest, city provides money to cover it

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- City leaders say they were surprised to learn that several performers at Kansas City's Jazz and Heritage Festival received checks that bounced.  The city had to bail out the festival to make sure the performers got paid, spending more than $100,000 of taxpayer money.

The festival brought in nationally known jazz musicians, but the crowd did not match organizers' expectations. The rainy weather put a damper on the festival and organizers blame that for not generating enough ticket sales to pay 10 performers $117,000.

"I think what we want to do is we want to start early in terms of expanding our sponsorship for next year that is our goal we are starting now to begin to identify various sponsors that can be part of the festival," said Cheptoo Kositany-Buckner, American Jazz Museum.

Finance Committee Chair Scott Wagner says the funds the city dipped into to cover festival costs is supposed to be for operating the Jazz Museum. Organizers are supposed to raise all money to stage their event privately. This year they staged a three-day festival instead of one-day, which drove up costs.

"It`s not really a subsidy," said Kositany-Buckner. "The funding the city gave us was part of an advance from our contract with the city. We are city-owned. We have a management contract with the city, about $500k a year so funding the city gave us was out of $500,000."

Only 4,500 tickets were sold to the festival.