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Newport Jazz Festival gets new sponsor

Posted by Steve Greenlee  May 11, 2011 11:35 AM

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chick.jpgThe Newport Jazz Festival has a new sponsor.

Festival founder George Wein announced this morning that Natixis Global Asset Management, an asset manager based in Boston and Paris, will be the presenting sponsor of the 2011 Newport Jazz Festival. The firm joins Alex and Ani, a Rhode Island jewelry designer and manufacturer, as this year's sponsors.

The festival has gone through challenging times in recent years.

Electronics maker JVC had sponsored the festival for 23 years until Wein -- who founded the Newport Jazz Festival in 1954 and ran it for 43 years -- sold his production company in 2007 and the rights to the festival to an outfit called Festival Network. Things didn't go well, and financial problems nearly forced the cancellation of the 2008 festival, until Wein stepped back in and took the reins. A year later he landed CareFusion, a medical devices company, as the main sponsor. CareFusion, however, informed Wein last fall that it was pulling out as sponsor.

Wein, 85, acknowledging that he "won't be around forever," announced in January that he's turning the Newport jazz and folk festivals into nonprofits in order to ensure their survival. The Newport Festivals Foundation oversees the events now. (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.)

This summer's Newport Jazz Festival is scheduled for Aug. 5-7 at Fort Adams State Park in Newport, R.I. The lineup includes more than dozen acts, including Wynton Marsalis, Joshua Redman, Eddie Palmieri, Angélique Kidjo, Charles Lloyd, and this year's Grammy winner for best new artst, Esperanza Spalding.

(AP photo: Chick Corea at the 2010 Newport Jazz Festival.)

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