During his Bush Administration tenure as chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, poet Dana Gioia was responsible for significantly raising the profile of this nation’s highest honorific for the jazz community, the National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Masters (NEAJM) fellowships. During Gioia’s tenure the A.B. Spellman jazz advocate slot was created o honor those living persons who have achieved high honor and given great service to the jazz community in non-performing capacities. Additionally the financial allocation awarded each NEAJM was increased to $25K and the number of annual awards was raised to six.
Another significant addition to this auspicious program was the creation of a fund to assist a limited number of panel-selected presenting organizations to present NEAJMs to their audience in extended engagements. The idea is to encourage presenters to engage NEAJMs for interactions with their given community which generally includes at least one concert performance but extends beyond that performance; to include residencies, commissions, onstage interviews, special collaborations, partnerships with fellow NEAJMs, and other services.
Arts Midwest is contracted by the NEA to facilitate the NEA Jazz Masters Live program, and Willard Jenkins of Open Sky Jazz is the coordinator of the program. The next phase of the program will include presentations by grant recipients between February 2011 and September 2011.
Web link: For complete information about the NEA Jazz Masters program, including a complete list of those living masters who’ve received NEA Jazz Masters fellowships since the program’s inception in 1982, and information on how you can nominate deserving jazz masters visit www.arts.endow.gov, go to Lifetime Honors and click on Jazz Masters Fellowships.