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Famed Newport Jazz & Folk Festivals Go Non-Profit

United States
NEWPORT, RI, January 25, 2011 - The famed Newport Jazz Festival® and Newport Folk Festival®, held in Newport, RI, since 1954 and 1959 respectively, have returned to their original roots as non-profit events. The Festivals will now be produced under the umbrella of Newport Festivals Foundation, Inc., a newly-formed 501(c)(3) organization. They will still be produced by George Wein and his veteran staff.

“The Foundation will perpetuate the history of jazz and folk music in Newport and will allow these festivals, which have been my passion and life‘s work, to live on,” said Wein, Jazz Impresario and NEA Jazz Master. “Little did we know that when Louis and Elaine Lorillard asked me to present a summer jazz event in Newport it would spawn two annual festivals that would capture the hearts of world-wide music fans for more than six decades.”

Under the Newport Festivals Foundation, each festival will continue the tradition of featuring some of the world‘s greatest established and emerging performers. The Newport Jazz Festival will present musicians who follow the traditions of New Orleans, swing, bebop and modal as the heart of jazz music. In addition, the Foundation will honor the evolving cultural expression and freedom of creativity necessary to the growth and continuing vitality of the music.

The Foundation will continue the Newport Folk Festival by maintaining the excellence of folk artists in the tradition of Pete Seeger, Joan Baez, Bob Dylan and others, in addition to presenting performers who respect and honor these folk music traditions while reflecting the changes in today‘s music trends.

Through the establishment of partnerships with local elementary schools and colleges/universities, the Foundation will develop programs to help educate young people, primarily from Rhode Island and New England, as well as from around the globe, about jazz and folk music as presented at the Newport Jazz Festival and Newport Folk Festival.

Wein has formed a Board of Directors to advise and support the Newport Festivals Foundation. Board members include: Richard M. Cashin, Managing Director, One Equity Partners; Jerome A. Chazen, Chairman, Chazen Capital; Joshua Feigenbaum, Media Entrepreneur; Bruce S. Gordon, former President and CEO, NAACP and retired Verizon Executive; Elliot L. Hoffman, Founding Senior Partner, Beldock, Levine & Hoffman, LLP; Vikas Kapoor, President and CEO of iQor; William M. Lewis, Jr., Managing Director and Co-chairman of Investment Banking, Lazard Ltd; Deborah Ross, Chief Administrative Officer and Acting Executive Director of the Foundation; Bruce Trauner, Partner, Beldock Levine & Hoffman, LLP; William M. Vareika, Owner, William Vareika Fine Arts; and George Wein.

The Newport Jazz Festival has been the beacon of jazz for 57 years. It is the scene of Miles Davis‘ resurgences in 1955 and again in 1984 and Duke Ellington‘s historical 1956 comeback. Over the years, every major jazz artist has performed at the festival, including Thelonious Monk, Dizzy Gillespie, Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Sarah Vaughan, Louis Armstrong and Billie Holiday as well as contemporary artists including Herbie Hancock, Wynton Marsalis and Diana Krall.

From its inaugural event in 1959 when Bob Gibson first introduced Joan Baez to the world, the Newport Folk Festival has created excitement. A few years later, Baez brought Bob Dylan to the festival, and the circle of innovation continued in 1965 when Dylan and the Paul Butterfield Blues Band went electric on the Newport stage. Decades later, The Pixies made a reverse statement and performed an acoustic set, continuing the tradition of introducing new music and musicians. In addition, Peter, Paul & Mary, James Taylor, Joni Mitchell and numerous renowned musicians have put their stamp on the Newport Folk Festival.

The 2011 Newport Folk Festival is set for July 29 - 31 and the Newport Jazz Festival takes over the following weekend, August 5 - 7. Both events will take place at the International Tennis Hall of Fame at Newport Casino and Fort Adams State Park in Newport, RI. Artists and ticket on-sale dates for both festivals will be announced in the Spring.
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