Acknowledging that he "won't be around forever," the 85-year-old cofounder and organizer of the Newport jazz and folk festivals says he's turning them into nonprofits in order to ensure their survival.
George Wein, who started the first Newport Jazz Festival in 1954 and the Newport Folk Festival in 1959, sold the two events in 2007 but resumed control two years later after the company that bought them ran into problems that nearly forced their cancellation. Since then, the festivals have not had an easy time attracting and retaining sponsors.
Wein's new nonprofits, the Newport Festivals Foundation, will oversee the events now, according to the Associated Press. "I want the festivals to go on forever," Wein told the AP. "With me it's not a matter of business. This is my life." In fact, both festivals started as nonprofits, but Wein turned them into for-profit ventures after his entire board quit in the wake of rioting at the 1960 jazz fest.
The 2011 Newport Folk Festival is scheduled for July 29-31 at Fort Adams State Park, and the Newport Jazz Festivals follows Aug. 5-7.
(AP photo: Anat Cohen performing at the 2010 Newport Jazz Festival.)