[Dixielandjazz] Founder Of Newport Jazz Festival Puts His Production Company Up For Sale

Mike mike at railroadstjazzwest.com
Sat Jan 27 22:30:04 PST 2007

Impresario George Wein, who brought jazz out of smoke-filled 
nightclubs to mass audiences by founding the much-imitated 
Newport Jazz Festival more than 50 years ago, says he has sold 
his production company, which puts on music festivals from New 
York to Tokyo and Paris. Wein has also partnered with Saratoga 
Performing Arts Center since 1978 to produce SPAC's annual jazz 

"I'm concerned with preserving my legacy and, at my age, I'm 
still working as hard as ever, but it was more difficult to find 
the funding necessary to guarantee the future of everything 
we're doing," Wein, 81, said in a telephone interview Thursday.

Wein said he had sold his company, Festival Productions Inc., to 
The Festival Network LLC, a new New York-based entertainment 
production company. The price was "in the millions," he said.

Wein said he became concerned about the future of his company 
and its festivals as he grew older. Joyce Wein, his wife of 46 
years, died in 2005.

He said he had been approached several times during the past 
decade about selling his company.

The new owners assure him that the sale won't cause any major 
changes in the near future in the sponsorship or programming of 
the 13 to 15 major festivals his company produces annually, he 
said, including the JVC Jazz Festival in New York and the 
Newport jazz and folk festivals.

Marcia White, president and executive director of SPAC, said she 
believes SPAC will not be affected by the sale, and that the 
amphitheater will continue to work on future jazz festivals with 
Festival Productions under its new ownership. A company 
representative will be at SPAC on Wednesday, Jan. 31, when the 
venue announces details of its 2007 season, including the jazz 
festival lineup, White said.

The deal does not cover the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage 
Festival, which Wein also founded and runs through a separate 

"I think it is the beginning of a new chapter; I don't feel it 
is the end of anything," said Wein, who will stay on as chairman 
of the new company's Festival Productions division.

Chris Shields, the 36-year-old CEO of The Festival Network, said 
that he approached Wein about a sale and merger last spring and 
that the deal was finalized this month.

Founder of Newport Jazz Festuival

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