Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Newport update

After 25 years of sponsoring the Newport Jazz Festival in an affiliation dating to 1984, JVC has bowed out. So impresario George Wein, the man who brought the corporate title sponsorship concept to musical events - guaranteeing mention of the company's name in publicity and promotion, is looking for a new backer for the event that began the global jazz festival tradition as we know it.

Wein has put out the word that he is looking for new corporate backers in Newport. This comes just a few weeks after he regained production rights for jazz and folk festivals in Newport, following the financial slide of Festival Network LLC, the company that bought his former Festival Productions Inc. operation two years ago.

This year’s Newport event is scheduled August 7 to 9, a week after Wein will present a 50th anniversary edition of the folk festival in Newport.

“The sponsorship fee is attractive and we look forward to forging new relationships as we continue to bring great music to Newport and beyond," Wein said in a news release.

So now there is an opportunity for new backers to join a long line of corporate supporters that have been there for Wein and his team for decades in a variety of cities and musical formats. The line began with the beer company Schlitz and the Kool cigarette brand and has since included Mellon Bank, Benson & Hedges, JVC, Essence and Playboy magazines, Ben & Jerry’s, Freihofer’s (now owned by the George Weston Bakeries), Dunkin’ Donuts and Verizon, among others.

Whoever signs on will follow an amazing sponsorship run by JVC, which supported Wein-produced events all over the world. Newport, New York, Miami, Chicago, Concord, Calif., Los Angeles, London, Paris, Rotterdam… the list of cities where JVC events were held over the past quarter-century goes on and on.

“The association with JVC is perhaps the longest-running event sponsorship in history,” Wein said. “The company placed us at a level that no one can ever imagine and affected jazz and the jazz festival in a way that increased awareness of the art form and touched people around the world.”

Wein produced America's first jazz festival at Newport in 1954 - and it has been a significant venue for a Who's Who in jazz ever since (except for a 10-year hiatus that ended in 1981).

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