IAJE Files for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

April 21, 2008

The world of jazz education is mourning the loss of the one organization that was dedicated to this specific field of music as the IAJE (International Assn. of Jazz Educators) has officially closed its doors. According to a letter from Chuck Owen, the President of IAJE on Friday, April 18, “the board voted to file for bankruptcy under Chapter 7 of the Federal Bankruptcy Law.” This leading music education association, which had over 8,000 members, an international convention, a bi-monthly journal, and a history of over 40 years has been crushed under a mountain of debt according to an article in the Seattle Times, April 18, 2008. The Times article indicated that the organization is rumored to have been over $1 million in debt according to Greg Yasinitzy an IAJE division coordinator. It is difficult to pinpoint the exact reasons for this unprecedented downfall, but there were obviously festering financial difficulties which were not specifically addressed by either the paid management team or the elected board.

According to the web site Guidestar.org, which provides information for charitable organizations, IAJE’s 2005-2006 tax return indicated a negative asset value of approximately $90,000. The time line regarding the financial difficulties is unclear from this point on, as this was the last publicly available statement filed with Guidestar.org. Indications are that due to a combination of poorly attended conventions, increased costs of publications, and other increasing expenses, the group continued to lose money until there was no further way to control the debt load. According to Owen’s letter, there was a late effort made by the board to raise funds to alleviate the financial problems, but this too failed far short of raising the necessary funds. It’s difficult to understand how the debt levels were allowed to increase so dramatically from ’05-’06 to the present without dramatic steps being taken earlier in time in order to reverse the cash outflow and perhaps save this venerable Association.

In the field of music education, there are many well-run associations that are an integral part of many music educators’ career enhancement and training#149; The lectures, performances, networking opportunities and trade shows that organizations provide offer a wealth of benefits for serious educators. The loss of the IAJE is not only a powerful blow to the 8,000 members who invested their time and money into supporting the association, but also to the greater music education community which benefited indirectly from the efforts of this group.

We have been told that there is an effort by highly respected educator and former IAJE board member, Mary Jo Papich, that she is working towards creating a new jazz association that will hopefully take the jazz education community to new heights. We’ll look forward to hearing more from her soon.

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