The Newport Jazz Festival and the Newport Folk Festival are two of the most popular festivals that happen in Newport every year. Both festivals started in the 1950’s and attract thousands of people from all over to celebrate jazz and folk music.
George Wein produced the first Jazz Festival in 1954 and five years later, with the help of Pete Seeger, he founded Newport’s Folk Festival. In 2010, Wein realized that the best chance for these festivals to continue after his passing was to create a non-profit corporation. Since he’d been in the business for quite some time, running a for profit business, he knew the best way to keep his festivals alive was through grants and donations through foundations and fans.
The mission of the Newport Festivals Foundation is to maintain both the Jazz and Folk Festivals in perpetuity and to keep them at historic locations. They want to present all forms of jazz and folk music from the past and present and showcase performers who recognize the freedom of creativity that is necessary to grow in these styles of music. This foundation brings together traditional jazz and folk music with new contemporary versions of these styles. Performers come from all over the world and this foundation hopes to create partnerships around the world.
The Newport Festivals Foundation also hopes to educate young people about these types of music through partnerships with local grade schools and universities. In association with Salve Regina University (located in Newport), this foundation has put together an annual jazz workshop for high school students. Most recently they have started a family concert at Fort Adams in order to introduce children to jazz and folk music. The Newport Festivals Foundation also brings in local jazz bands to the Jazz Festival, which gives them a chance of a lifetime.
Thanks to George Wein, generations will be able to enjoy jazz and folk music for years to come.