If you want to know how the economy is trending, just ask a nonprofit arts festival organizer, because they will know—second only to CFOs—when corporate sponsors start to tighten their purse strings. Arts festivals themselves are the coalmine canaries of recession, and a little birdie by the name of the Portland Jazz Festival just stopped chirping. After a respectable five-year run showcasing local jazz musicians alongside national heavyweights like Ornette Coleman, and producing more than 50 jazz education and outreach events, the festival made the decision last week to cease operations indefinitely due to "a decline in funding and sponsorship support."
As eight years of mind-boggling mismanagement of the economy at the federal level catches up with the collective American pocketbook, arts funding is likely to get even tighter, making it all the more important for Portland to have a coherent, centralized program to generate support for our local creative communities. Creative Capacity—a still-developing regional initiative to address this need, spearheaded by current Arts and Culture Commissioner (and Mayor-Elect) Sam Adams and stewarded by representatives from his office, the arts community and the Regional Arts and Culture Council—just released an initial report on Phase I of the project. The report is downloadable from creativecapacity.org, and an open, interactive Town Hall Meeting to kick off Phase II will take place at PNCA (1241 NW Johnson) on Tuesday, September 30, beginning at 5:30 pm.
While Creative Capacity has been gestating, Portland's music community has recently done some mighty fine advocating for itself in breaching the cash-controlled realm of FM radio. Having this summer procured a highly coveted slice of the dial at 91.1, nascent nonprofit radio station KZME, which will be ad-free and dedicated to local music when it goes on the air in 2009, is now soliciting CDs from Portland metro area acts of all stylistic persuasions for their music library. Discs and bios should be sent to Dennise Kowalczyk, KZME, 829 NE 8th, Gresham, OR 97030.
On the other end of the FM spectrum, up at Jammin 107.5, Northwest hiphop heads have themselves a new champion. Local emcee, promoter, Jus Family Records bigwig, and indomitable Portland music crusader Cool Nutz is hosting a new program entitled "The Northwest Radio Breakout Show" dedicated to Northwest hiphop every Friday night from 9-10 pm, beginning October 3. Cool Nutz says, "You will hear Lifesavas, Sandpeople, Liv Warfield, Lilla D'Mone, Maniac Lok, Illaj & Mikey Vegaz, Blue Scholars, Kenny Mack, Soul P, Mic Crenshaw, Libretto, Grayskul, and more. And this won't take place during the garbage hours of radio, but in a primetime slot that gives the artists the opportunity to be heard. We will feature in-depth interviews with the artists, as well as celebrity reviews of music from local artists as well. We will have a completely different agenda from what is already on the air."
I can think of no better time to celebrate these victories than at the landmark all-ages Starfucker album release matinee at the Doug Fir on Thursday, September 18, at 5 pm, where we can raise our Shirley Temples and Roy Rogers with our underage brethren in a toast to music being for people young and old alike. Starfucker will be the first local band to play an all-ages show at the vaunted Burnside venue, but they won't be the last; a youth-friendly Thermals matinee has just been announced for December 6!