Foundation Takes Detroit Fest

Michigan’s Music Hall Center for the Performing Arts has handed the Detroit International Jazz Festival over to a foundation established by Carhartt clothing heiress and record label owner Gretchen Valade.

With the turnover, the private Detroit International Jazz Festival Foundation promises to ensure the 26-year-old event’s future. The foundation, with its $10 million endowment, will oversee artistic programming, day-to-day operations, marketing and fund-raising for the free fest.

“This means the continuation of the jazz festival, and that means a lot to know that it’s safe,” Valade told the Detroit Free Press.

Valade, a jazz afficionado, has been a major festival contributor for several years. When Ford Motor Company pulled its $250,000 title sponsorship in February, she contributed $600,000 to save the Labor Day weekend event.

Meanwhile, Music Hall will continue to run the festival’s education stage and outreach programs. The 1,700-seat venue had produced the event since 1994.

As part of the relationship, Valade or her label, Mack Avenue Records, will sponsor a yearly jazz concert series at Music Hall beginning as early as next fall.

The 2005 festival cost $1.2 million and the 2006 event is expected to need funds beyond the foundation’s endowment.

The foundation is already panning a larger, more expanded festival for next year.