July 29 Board announcement with comments

Press Release from the Board of Directors

The Healdsburg Jazz Festival Announces
Hiatus of Jazz Festival for 2011 Season
Renewed Focus on Music Education Program

July 29, 2010

Today the Healdsburg Jazz Festival Board of Directors announced that the organization will focus the resources of the organization on its signature music education program, Operation Jazz Band for the 2011 season. Pat Templin the Board Chair said, “Operation Jazz Band has been a highly successful music education program in the community. Our mission is all about stimulating interest in jazz and educating young people about the important role of jazz as an indigenous American art form.”

Operation Jazz Band has been offered to local area schools by The Healdsburg Jazz Festival for the past 10 years. The annual spring program that is led by musician Babatunde Lea introduces 5th grade students in six different area schools to jazz through an innovative week-long program that brings professional musicians into the classroom. The week ends with more than 500 students attending a concert where the musicians perform music that they have introduced to the students over the course of the week.”

The board also announced that it intends to pause the jazz festival for the coming year and to study alternatives to the current jazz festival. These explorations will include the overall length of the jazz festival and the variety and genres of the music that are presented, with the core still being exceptional jazz. The board also intends to continue a dialogue with local community members and businesses that began this year to help the festival explore ways to create a successful organization.

Pat Templin, the Board Chair, cited 3 years of operating deficits and the need to find a model that can be sustainable for the non-profit 501 (c) (3) organization as the primary reason for the need to pause the festival and return to its primary mission of music education in the schools. “We have worked very hard as a board to involve the Healdsburg community and local businesses in the festival. The downturn in the economy was certainly a factor in our decision to take the next year to study our options. We have lost financial support from a number of sponsors and community members over the last 3 years. There also seems to be a more limited audience for pure jazz in the community as evidenced by lower ticket sales. There may be an opportunity to broaden the offering in the future. We need to find a winning model that will interest more people and businesses in the community to get involved, provide financial support and to attend a revised music festival,” said Templin.

Jessica Felix who is the founder and artistic director of The Healdsburg Jazz Festival for the past 12 years, will be leaving the organization. Templin said, “The board would like to thank Jessica Felix for her passion and tireless efforts on behalf of the festival since its inception.” Templin also said, “The board will be working together over the next year to continue advancing the reach of Operation Jazz Band in the local schools and to examine our options. We will retain minimal support staff to handle administrative tasks that may be required over the coming year. Our main goal through this process is to continue bringing music education to our local students while keeping jazz as a core component of our programming for future successful festivals.

The Healdsburg Jazz Festival, Inc., is a non-profit corporation. Among its other projects are jazz education programs held in area elementary and secondary schools to teach area youth about jazz music and its role in American heritage.

The release (full release PDF available at this link) addresses changes in direction, priorities and staffing of the organization. Comments are welcome below.