Shell and Jazz Fest: More in Common Than You Would Think
Besides a love for Louisiana, volunteering and contributing to communities are other areas Shell has in common with The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation. The Foundation, the nonprofit that owns the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival presented by Shell, uses the proceeds from Jazz Fest, and other raised funds, for year-round programs in education, economic development and cultural enrichment.
All year long, the Foundation produces cultural events that spotlight Louisiana’s unique culture while supporting the people who create it. Since 1979, the Jazz & Heritage Foundation has reinvested the proceeds from Jazz Fest directly into the community — in the form of grants to arts and educational organizations — to support projects that reflect the Foundation’s mission.
The Foundation has donated more than $3 million to nonprofit event presenters, schools, after-school and summer programs, dance troupes, theater workshops, gallery showings, film productions, performing artists, visual artists and many more. Since Hurricane Katrina, the budget for the grants program has grown steadily and now stands at more than $800,000 per year.
Some of the programs and projects the Foundation funds include:
- WWOZ: The Foundation operates an award-winning noncommercial radio station, WWOZ, which promotes the music and culture of Louisiana to a worldwide audience.
- The George and Joyce Wein Jazz & Heritage Center: This recently-opened, state-of-the-art educational and community facility is the new home of the Heritage School of Music, frequent jazz concerts and other educational and cultural programs that serve the youth and the wider community.
- The Jazz & Heritage Archive: The Archive is the guardian of materials and information from the Foundation’s various programs and activities, including Jazz Fest. A large portion of the collection, which is available to the public for research, is recorded Jazz Fest interviews with the primary creators of Louisiana’s unique culture.
- Don “Moose” Jamison Heritage School of Music: Since 1990, the Foundation has operated a free after-school music instruction program under the leadership of the saxophonist Edward “Kidd” Jordan. Now housed at the George and Joyce Wein Jazz & Heritage Center, the Heritage School reaches more students than ever with top-notch music instruction, and employs eight of the city’s leading musicians as instructors.
- Class Got Brass: Now in its fifth year, this innovative program promotes music education in the school system while promoting Louisiana’s cultural heritage. It’s a contest for middle schools and high schools to create New Orleans-style brass bands, which then compete in a “second-line” parade judged by the city’s top jazz musicians. Winners receive more than $30,000 worth of instruments for their schools’ music programs.
- Sync Up Conference: Now in its ninth year, the Sync Up conference brings together leaders in music, film and digital media for educational and networking sessions during Jazz Fest.
- Catapult Fund: Now in its second year, the Catapult Fund provides essential training to small and start-up businesses in the arts. Business owners learn accounting, marketing, human resources and other best business practices, and develop high-quality business plans. Those who successfully complete the training are awarded grants totaling $75,000.
- Free Festivals: Building on its long history of presenting free community festivals, in 2006 the Foundation began producing a series of genre-specific festivals: Crescent City Blues & BBQ, Treme Creole Gumbo, Congo Square Rhythms and Louisiana Cajun-Zydeco. Each of these festivals has grown to the point where they now attract significant numbers of visitors to New Orleans while providing new employment opportunities for our performers, food vendors and local artisans.
- Shell and the Jazz and Heritage Foundation. Not an obvious partnership, but upon closer inspection it’s clear to see the organizations are not like oil and water. They go together like red beans and rice, like trumpets and jazz, like rhythm and blues….and that is sweet, sweet music to the people of Louisiana.