“I’m thrilled that the Folk Festival and the Jazz Festival are staying right here in Newport where they belong,” said Governor Gina Raimondo. “The two festivals have been signature celebrations at Fort Adams under the leadership of their founder, George Wein, for decades, and attract thousands of visitors to Rhode Island. We’re delighted to partner with Newport Festivals Foundation to continue hosting these world-class events at Fort Adams well into the future. This agreement helps Rhode Island sustain and expand the attractions that make us an unforgettable, fun-sized destination.”
In addition, DEM has entered a 40-year lease with NFF for Building 16, the former home of the Museum of Yachting at Fort Adams State Park. NFF will maintain and make substantial improvements to this historic building and create a museum with displays relating to the festivals. The building also will contain a performance space that will provide a venue for young musicians who are the beneficiaries of the philanthropic educational grants provided by NFF. As part of the long-term lease, NFF has committed to invest private funds to rehabilitate the building and build out the museum, the performance area, and office space.
Capacity crowds of 10,000 people pack Fort Adams every day of the two festivals. Nearly 90 percent come to Newport specifically for the festivals. Fort Adams has the largest economic impact of any Rhode Island state park, with 1.3 million visitors – including nearly 775,000 out-of-state visitors – generating an estimated $64 million in economic output in 2016, according to a University of Rhode Island study.
“It has been a pleasure working with George Wein and the whole team at Newport Festivals Foundation and coming through with successful agreements to ensure that these historic events remain at Fort Adams State Park,” said DEM Director Janet Coit. “Combined, the music and the venue provide an opportunity for people to come together to create, restore, and celebrate being alive. DEM is thrilled to have played a part in this venture.”
Thanks to the creative vision of George Wein — recognized as “the father of outdoor music festivals” — Rhode Island has hosted the world-renowned Newport Jazz and Folk Festivals since 1954 and 1959, respectively. Wein was 28 when he helped get the Newport Jazz Festival off the ground 64 years ago. He created the NFF over a decade ago to ensure the continuation of these iconic music festivals and provide educational initiatives for area youth.