Wein’s jazz fest without JVC Corp

Calling all jazz sponsors: that’s the message producer George Wein released today (March 17) in search of corporate support for his proposed 55th anniversary Newport Jazz Festival.
So doing, Wein also announced the end of a 24-year association with JVC Corp., the electronics manufacturer that has been title sponsor of fests formerly staged by Wein’s company Festival Productions in New York, Chicago, LA, Concord CA, Miami and Paris. If JVC has pulled out of sponsoring jazz fests — and not just disassociating with Wein — the effect will be widespread. No details on any of these events happening in 2009 have yet surfaced, although Holland’s North Sea Jazz Festival 2009 website still bears a JVC sponsor logo.

As I wrote here on March 3, Wein’s decision to put on jazz and folk festivals in Newport RI next August came in the wake of Festival Network, the firm which emerged from Shoreline Media’s buyout of Festival Productions in 2007, abandoning the city that gave birth to the summer music festival in 1954. Festival Network has been reported as being in financial distress and is currently represented on the web with a rather static home page that promises “new site coming soon!” while boasting of ties to 21 festivals. Among these are past JVC-titled jazz fests, but also the Festivals of Champions Vancouver 2010London 2012 and Sochi 2014. Website representing those upcoming Olympic and Paralympic winter games make no mention of The Festival Network. 
But back to the Newport Jazz Festival, and George Wein’s search for new underwriters. The fest slated for August 7 to 9 at Fort Adams State Park on Newport Bay will, according to the press release, “bring instantaneous world-wide recognition to the company that sponsors this renowned music event.” 
Wein is quoted: “Jazz is synonymous with quality and innovation and any organization that gets involved with the jazz festival in Newport will immediately benefit from the more than five decades of this newsworthy celebration of America’s music. The sponsorship fee is attractive and we look forward to forging new relationships as we continue to bring great music to Newport and beyond.” 
Beyond? Is it too late for a New York City Jazz Festival this summer? Is the Vision Festival 14  of intense, experimental and beyond-jazz-improvisers still on for June 9 – 15 at the Henry St. Settlement and Angel Orensanz Foundation? Is the Litchfield CT Jazz Festival, July 31-Aug. 2, with mostly Connecticut sponsors and a lineup not yet announced, secure? The 32nd Annual Freihofer’s Jazz Festival, at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center June 27-28, being produced by a former Wein-associate has put its tickets – for shows headlined by Patti Labelle, George Benson and Dave Brubeck, among others on sale today. If no suitable sponsors emerge, will Wein make the Newport Jazz Festival happen anyway?

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Comments

  1. says

    The Newport Jazz Festival paved the way for so many other jazz festivals around the country, including the Litchfield Jazz Festival — which will indeed run this year, July 31 – August 2 — in northwest Connecticut. Ironically the lack of one large major corporate sponsor turns out to be a positive thing for Litchfield, which is secure and getting ready for our 14th season in a new venue — the grounds of Kent School in Kent, CT.
    The 2009 line-up, announced just last week, includes the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Poncho Sanchez, Bucky Pizzarelli, Houston Person and more. Kent is two hours north of NYC with a Metro North train stop close by. We have taken this opportunity to work together with the Kent Chamber of Commerce, Kent School and Kent community to boost their economy and enhance their cultural experience. The Litchfield Jazz Camp (running for 4 session July 5 – 31) will host more than 20 free concerts at Kent School and in local restaurants, leading up to the jazz festival weekend by faculty (including Music Director Don Braden, Nilson Matta, Martin Wind, Alvin Atkinson, Claire Daly, Roni Ben-Hur, Claudio Roditi, Onaje Allan Gumbs, Dena DeRose and many others) and advanced students from the camp. To make jazz accessible to everyone we award up to $100,000 in need-based scholarships to the camp each summer and encourage families to attend with children under 12 free on the lawn. http://www.litchfieldjazzfest.com
    HM: Thanks for this good news, Lindsay. I did not mean to suggest that Litchfield is in trouble — and it may well be that the smaller, well-focused local fests that do not depend on financial support from a single sponsor have an advantage in surviving the current shake-ups; I hope so. I’d like to hear from jazz fests all around the U.S. about their 2009 plans.
    I have also heard from George Wein’s publicist: “The [Newport jazz] festival will happen even if there is no sponsor. George can handle it!”

  2. says

    Obviously an evolving story, but Down Beat will address some of the sponsorship concerns in its annual festival issue. I have a feature in there about the situation in Canada, where, despite the ongoing uncertainty surrounding General Motors — the principal sponsor of the world’s largest jazz festival, in Montreal — all our festivals have this year’s sponsorships locked down and they’re motoring on. 2010 could be a different issue if things don’t turn around, though if that’s the case, jazz festivals may well be the least of our concerns.