Festival organizers estimate that it brings $300 million into the New Orleans economy. . . .
[T]his year’s lineup includes 688 groups, “and 600 of them are from New Orleans and South Louisiana.”. . .
Jazz Fest is nonprofit, channeling revenues back into Louisiana music. “The mission of the festival all along has been to make a full circle,” Davis said. “To go back and support the culture that you’re promoting.”
Jazz Fest generates about $3 million each year for the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit [501(c)(3) nonprofit, according to the foundation’s executive director, Don Marshall. The foundation owns the license of the New Orleans public radio station WWOZ-FM www.wwoz.org which plays the kind of music heard at the festival year-round — and provides the bulk of its funding. The foundation also gives 8,500 Jazz Fest tickets to community groups; runs the free Heritage School of Music and supports other music-education programs; presents four free annual music festivals in New Orleans; subsidizes performances by Louisiana musicians across the state; underwrites a musicians’ clinic; documents the region’s musical history, and steps in with other efforts at maintaining New Orleans traditions. . . .
“In so many areas the heritage traditions are struggling to survive,” Marshall said. “But in New Orleans they’re growing.“. . .
The festival’s own legacy began with the producer George Wein. He had presented the Newport Folk Festival and the Newport Jazz Festival, and in the early 1960s he was approached by New Orleans city officials and its hotel association. He told them he could not produce a jazz festival in a city that enforced segregation.
Eventually, years after the passage of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964, he seized the chance to create a New Orleans festival “combining the two festivals I had done in Newport, the folk and the jazz,” he said in an interview.
Read the full story by consummate music critic Jon Pareles in the NY Times . . .
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