One of the most significant commitments to date by the foundation's Arts program, the grant will help establish Jazz Road, an intra-regional program designed to connect jazz artists with one another and expand touring opportunities to communities across the country. Led by South Arts, the re-granting program will be the nation's most extensive jazz touring support system, with all six of the country's regional arts organizations — Arts Midwest, Mid-America Arts Alliance, Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation, New England Foundation for the Arts, Western Arts Alliance/WESTAF, and South Arts — collaborating on formal programming for the first time while forging a national network that enables jazz musicians to tour the broadest possible cross-section of communities outside major urban areas.
In September, after research by DDCF identified a lack of coordinated support for jazz and jazz musicians compared with other performing arts fields, South Arts announced the appointment of veteran arts administrator Sara Donnelly as director of jazz to develop and launch the initiative, which is also receiving support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
"While artists across the country are collaborating and re-creating the tradition of jazz in unprecedented ways, the field faces a serious challenge in the lack of national support mechanisms from which other disciplines benefit," said Maurine Knighton, program director for the arts at DDCF. "We are proud to have worked with South Arts to bring this project to fruition and excited to support it as it partners with its peer organizations to ensure that more American communities can benefit from the remarkable work of jazz artists."