With historic Fort Adams State Park as a backdrop, Governor Gina Raimondo and Newport Festivals Foundation Chairman George Wein today announced that the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) and the Newport Festivals Foundation (NFF) have reached a license agreement that will keep the Newport Jazz and Folk Festivals in Newport for 25 more years. Standing hand in hand on the Newport Folk Festival stage, Governor Raimondo and Wein also said that NFF will create a museum with displays relating to the iconic music festivals at Fort Adams.
“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.”
“When I was asked by the Lorillards to come to Newport in 1954, I never thought I would be here 64 years later still presenting the music I love – jazz and folk,” said George Wein. “But here we are, thanks to Governor Raimondo, the Rhode Island DEM, and the wonderful people of Rhode Island. We are looking forward to 40 more years of great music and educating young people to the rich musical history of these great festivals. I hope to be here for a good number of these years.”
On July 17, DEM and NFF entered a 25-year license agreement for the continued presentation of the Jazz and Folk Festivals at Fort Adams. It is a dramatic forum for the events, which have surged to sell-out capacity over the past few years. DEM is the state agency that manages Rhode Island’s system of diverse public parks and beaches.
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.
NFF sponsors music assemblies in schools in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Connecticut, reaching thousands of students each year. In 2018, NFF committed to donating over $125,000 to music education initiatives. NFF recently donated $20,000 worth of instruments to four Pawtucket public schools that experienced budget cuts. NFF has funded the Boys and Girls Club of Newport County’s year-round, after-school music program since 2012. The foundation also provides the opportunity for students to perform and collaborate with professional musicians on stage at the Newport Folk and Newport Jazz Festivals and over 4,500 reduced-price student tickets.