The Portland Jazz Festival reports that it is not dead after all. Nearly a month ago, the festival announced that a lack of major sponsorship and funding caused it to be canceled. Earlier this year, the telephone company Qwest dropped out as the event’s primary sponsor. With the economy limping, fuel costs high and revenues pinched, airlines are not thriving, but Alaska Air Lines is flying to the festival’s rescue, aided by a coalition of former and new sponsors. Alaska Air has promised to provide $50,000 a year for two years. Qwest has agreed to a contribution of $5,000. The resuscitated 2009 festival, February 13-22, will be built around the 70th anniversary of Blue Note Records.
Co-founder and artistic director Bill Royston (pictured) told the Portland Oregonian that Alaska’s offer came “out of the blue.” In a news release, his co-founder Sarah Bailen Smith added, “I’ve been astonished at how incredibly supportive this community has been since our announcement. Portland recognizes the value of the arts. It makes me proud to live here.”
Headliners for the 2009 festival were not announced. Royston told Rifftides that the festival will hold a news conference this afternoon. For details of the rescue package, see this story in this morning’s Oregonian.