By Sunny Sumter, Executive Director
It’s October, and although the summer continues to linger, slowly but surely the signs, sights and sounds of autumn are creeping in – whether you’re listening to “Autumn Leaves” or marveling at them! And, with the autumn leaves comes a time for reflection. Before we know it, it will be 2020 – but there are still opportunities this year to celebrate and support jazz in our nation’s capital. On October 28, co-presentation of O.A.S.I.S (Isabelle Olivier Harp, Rez Abassi, Ernie Adams), in partnership with the French-American Jazz Exchange, at La Maison Francaise, part of our Fishman Artist Embassy Series; our Jazzin’ AfterSchool program led by Herman Burney at Sitar Arts Center; and our DC Jazz Bops! early childhood music education program, supported by Wells Fargo. Then November signals our year-end fund drive and the DC Jazz Festival’s annual season of giving as the holidays approach – an opportunity to give back for the great art, incredible experiences, and golden memories from 2019.
Great art attaches people to places and to each other. Investing in the arts is central to building stronger, better informed and more engaged communities. Jazz in DC is healthy, and jazz is indeed thriving. This is happening during a time when the arts are elevated as a creative place maker in communities. Now, more than ever, the importance of our creative work to educate, entertain and initiate pertinent cultural exchanges through the power of jazz cannot be underestimated. An organizing force of residents, business owners, corporate and government stakeholders, and business improvement districts can strengthen neighborhoods, reveal the authentic character of communities, and connect artists with diverse audiences. In June, DC JazzFest presented by Events DC took over the District as a most organizing force – and we had a blast! And, although we did stretch the capacity of our staff and production team, DC JazzFest experienced a breakthrough year as more than 148,000 festivalgoers “got their jazz on” with over 165 performances in 40 venues citywide. Creative placemaking was center stage as we jazzed up public and private spaces in 22 neighborhoods, rejuvenated streetscapes like the Big Chair in Anacostia, improved local business viability in partnership with the Wharf Association and the Anacostia Business Improvement District, and brought diverse people together to celebrate all things jazz in June.
Gone is the desperation in the arts community when we are all trying to figure out how to prove the economic value of investing in the sector. Through the great work of Destination DC, Events DC, Americans for the Arts and others, vibrant economic contributors like DC Jazz Festival are being appreciated and rewarded for their contributions to society. DC Jazz Festival was recently awarded support from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation in recognition of our significant impact on DC's creative economy. DC Jazz Festival continues to make great art, build diverse audiences, and enhance the quality of life for residents across the District and beyond. We remain grateful to the entire community of supporters that make what we do possible.
Looking ahead to education, a central focus of our work, our partnerships with KIPP Academy, Bishop Walker School for Boys, Tyler Elementary and Sitar Arts Center are movin’ and groovin’ into the chillier months. We continue to engage thousands of DC students through the delight and surprise of jazz.
We cannot wait to finish out this year on a resounding high note, but there’s still a lot of exciting work to be done in the remaining weeks of 2019. Not to mention, we’ll even have a few exciting announcements about the June 2020 DC JazzFest. Thank you for all you do to support the DC Jazz Festival. You lift us up , and it’s our privilege to serve the DC community.