31 Jazz Artists Receiving Nearly $360,000 To Support Tours Through Jazz Road

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Jazz Road, a national initiative led by South Arts, has announced the recipients of the first round of Jazz Road Tours funding. Thirty-one artists and ensembles from throughout the United States will receive $359,600 to build tours with an emphasis on reaching rural, isolated, and underserved communities, in combination with dates at more traditional venues.

Jazz Road, administered by Atlanta-based South Arts, is funded by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation with additional support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The initiative is conducted in partnership with the five other Regional Arts Organizations (Arts Midwest, Mid-America Arts Alliance, Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation, New England Foundation for the Arts, and Western Arts Alliance/WESTAF).

“We are proud that jazz has its roots here in the South,” said Susie Surkamer, executive director of South Arts, “where it was birthed just over a century ago in the cultural mix of New Orleans. It quickly worked its way up the Mississippi River and across the country to the many hubs and cities now known for its richest developments. Jazz Road, the largest national program in our organization’s history, echoes that historical reach and growth, region by region.”

“Jazz Road Tours enables both lesser-known and mid-career, more established artists to tour the country, accessing areas that were previously out of reach,” said Sara Donnelly, director of jazz for South Arts. “Artists can plan these small tours knowing they will be compensated equitably for fees and travel, which smaller, less-resourced presenters often find too risky to cover or pay in advance.”

Earlier this year, more than 200 artists began the application process, each requesting up to $15,000 to build tours between October 2019 and September 2020. A national panel—comprised of New Orleans-based sound artist and multi-instrumentalist Aurora Nealand, Vermont Jazz Center director Eugene Uman, consultant and prior American Jazz Museum CEO Greg Carroll, Portland-based artist-manager Kim Gumbel, Washington DC jazz club proprietor and producer Omrao Brown, and MacArthur Fellow violinist Regina Carter—recommended the 31 applicants to receive funding based on the applicant’s artistic excellence and merit of the proposed tour, as demonstrated by the impact of the tour, range of presenters involved, and potential to engage new audiences in new areas.

“We are glad that this initial round of grants supports a vibrant grouping of tours, defined by a significant number of Black artists and female bandleaders as recipients,” continued Donnelly. “Additionally, we may begin to identify new patterns in urban-to-rural routing across the country—all the while promoting such an eclectic mix of what can be considered jazz music and its extensions.”

“This is just the start of our efforts to offer direct support to jazz artists in building their careers,” continued Surkamer. “Along with future rounds of Jazz Road Tours funding to be posted in early 2020, we will launch Jazz Road Creative Residencies where artists can develop multi-week custom programs meaningful to their careers and artistic development while connecting with a new community.”

See all recipients here: https://jazzroad.southarts.org/touring-grants/jazz-road-tours-grant-recipients/

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