George Wein, producer of the seminal Newport Jazz Festival in 1954 and the first Newport Folk Festival in 1959, has submitted his application to negotiate a license with the Department of Environmental Management (DEM) to produce a jazz festival and a folk festival in Newport, RI, this summer. It has been approved by the Rhode Island State Properties Committee.
Wein will negotiate a contract to produce a gala jazz festival from August 7-9 celebrating 55 years of jazz in Newport as well as a celebration of 50 years of folk music from July 31-August 2. Both festivals will take place at Fort Adams State Park.
Wein was the founder of Festival Promotions, which was sold to Festival Network LLC in 2007. Due to financial problems, Festival Network defaulted on its five year license when it was late in paying its share of the proceeds from the festivals to the DEM, which operate the venue, thus nullifying and voiding its contract. The bidding process was open, and Wein recently learned that the license to produce the festivals at Fort Adams State Park in 2009 was available.
“When I was informed that the festivals, which have been the most important part of my life since 1954 and 1959, might be lost forever I realized that it was necessary for me to come back and apply for the rights to produce jazz and folk festivals in 2009 and beyond,” Wein said in a statement. “Whatever success I have had as a national and international music impresario can be traced directly to my beginnings in Newport. The traditions we have established there mean everything to me.”
Wein, who has not been paid by Festival Network since November 15, 2007, believes that he is no longer an employee. However, the name for the festivals this year in not known at this time nor are any sponsors. The artist line ups are expected to be released in April. The Newport Folk Festival had no sponsor for the first time last year and reportedly lost a lot of money.
Festival Network has reportedly not paid various production and marketing vendors last year, and one industryite wondered whether Wein would have to find new vendors or old ones who would work with him on good faith.