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February 1, 2011

PDX Jazz Fest Receives Two NEA Grants

Great News! The 2011 Alaska Airlines/Horizon Air Portland Jazz Festival Presented by US Bank has received two grants by the National Endowment of the Arts (NEA). A much prestigious honor, the PDX Jazz fest received the Jazz Masters Live grant and the Challenge America Fast-Track grant.

It's no easy feat to gain grants from the NEA, and I applaud PDX Jazz for showcasing some of the finest International Jazz up in our little pocket here. And I'm glad to see them getting this huge recognition on a national level.
Press Release:

The 2011 Alaska Airlines/Horizon Air Portland Jazz Festival Presented by US Bank has received two NEA grants. PDX Jazz has been awarded a Jazz Masters Live grant and Challenge America Fast-Track grant.

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) created the Jazz Masters Live grant to help bring outstanding jazz musicians, writers, producers, and scholars to communities across the nation through NEA Jazz Masters Live. In cooperation with Arts Midwest, these NEA Jazz Masters Live grants support performance and educational activities featuring NEA Jazz Masters, recipients of the nation's highest honor in jazz. The program celebrates these living legends who have made exceptional contributions to the advancement of jazz and offers audiences the unique opportunity to share the artists' expertise in performances, master classes, clinics, lectures, and short term residencies. "Live interactions between musicians and audiences are essential to jazz," said NEA Chairman Rocco Landesman.

NEA Jazz Master and acclaimed pianist, Randy Weston, will open the 2011 Portland Jazz Festival on February 18 at the Winningstad Theatre with an evening of solo jazz piano. He will also lead a workshop for Portland State University students and participate in the festival's "Jazz Conversation" series, hosted by Marty Hughley. Weston will be appearing in support of his most recent album, The Story Teller, available through Motema Music, and his recently released autobiography, African Rhythms, available through Duke University Press.

The Challenge America Fast-Track grant offers support primarily to small and mid-sized organizations for projects that extend the reach of the arts to under-served populations -- those whose opportunities to experience the arts are limited by geography, ethnicity, economics, or disability. This category, as an essential component of the Arts Endowment's goal of providing wide access to artistic excellence, supports local projects that can have significant effects within communities.

Portland Jazz Festival, the first major international jazz festival on the annual global jazz calendar, attracts an audience from a large geographical area, serving a population that does not routinely have access to internationally acclaimed jazz artists without traveling to Seattle or San Francisco. With the Challenge America Fast-Track grant, Portland Jazz Festival will connect more directly to the immediate community it serves, and reach out specifically to minority populations within the greater Portland Metropolitan area. One of the main goals in obtaining these grants is to create a festival that not only showcases today's masters, but also connects the Portland community to jazz as a vibrant, living, changing music that is as relevant today as ever, creating an atmosphere that supports the art form year round.

The National Endowment for the Arts has supported jazz artists and organizations since 1969, providing millions of dollars in grants and awards. In 2004, the NEA significantly expanded its NEA Jazz Masters program and in 2005 created the NEA Jazz Masters Initiative, a comprehensive program of jazz support that includes the NEA Jazz Masters Award; radio programming featuring NEA Jazz Masters; educational resources through the NEA Jazz in the Schools program produced by the Arts Endowment in partnership with Jazz at Lincoln Center; and publications and reports.

For more information on NEA Jazz Masters, please visit neajazzmasters.org

The Jazz Fest is just around the corner (2/18-2/27) so get to www.pdxjazz.com to start planning your itinerary. You can purchase your tickets by calling 503-228-JAZZ (5299) or visiting the PDX Jazz office at 133 SW 2nd Ave., Suite 420.

I'd also like to point out the redesign of their webpage. Looking sharp!

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