The Kennedy Center presents more jazz in 2009-10 than all the other US government cultural institutions combined — some 40 concerts of new and established talent in all styles. No surprise, public performance being the Center’s reason for being, while the Library of Congress and the Smithsonian Institution are mandated for research and archival activities. But who supports the KenCen’s jazz?
Congress appropriates monies for the Kennedy Center’s maintenance and operations, not programming. Claiming to put on more than 2000 shows annually, for audiences topping 2 million, the Center pays for its programs through ticket sales (though it has a free, streaming and archived concert every day from 6-7 pm), funds from the U.S. Department of Education and competitive grants, contributions from individuals and corporations. In the past, the KC Jazz Club, in which about half this year’s jazz concerts take place, has been underwritten by Cadillac and GMAC. This year there’s no single corporate sponsor — yet programming hasn’t been cut back.
“President [Michael M.] Kaiser believes the Center should never cut the arts programmikng — that we present great art, well marketed, and it shouldn’t suffer, because great art is how we keep this institution alive.”
But great art in institutions connected with the cultural image the U.S. wants to project requires funding, too. In a future series, I’ll look at corporations and individuals underwriting jazz on nationwide basis. If you have information on any doing that, please forward it to this blog.
Part I Library of Congress
Part II Smithsonian
Part III Kennedy Center