When I heard about the city of Blaine's budget shortfall, one of my immediate concerns was the Blaine Jazz Festival.
The festival began 12 years ago through the Pacific Arts Association, a nonprofit organization. According to Kitty King, festival president, there have been changes in personnel and scheduling over the years, but the heart of the festival has remained the same: "To bring music to our community and to enrich the lives of young musicians."
She adds: "The success of each year's festival and the unmistakable pride on the faces of our students inspires us to continue."
This year, King says the festival faces its biggest challenge. With the closing of Semiahmoo Resort, she says, Blaine has lost its main source of funding for local events, including the festival. The $15,000 grant the organization was counting on to help fund the festival and camp will not be available, so, in addition to the usual fundraising that takes place throughout the year, they will have to raise that amount, too.
Kristi Galbraith is the executive director of Pacific Arts Association, which, she says, is "a group of talented individuals who aren't afraid of work and will do what it takes to produce the Blaine Jazz Camp and Festival."
The group is actively working on a number of fundraising ideas. First up is a Christmas concert by Jon Mutchler, at 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 9, at Blaine Performing Arts Center. Jon combines elements of jazz, classical, and new age in a creative collection of well-known holiday music. He was one of the festival's long-term instructors and, until recently, was the house pianist at Semiahmoo Resort.
Galbraith says community members can give a family, friend or pet a place in Blaine history and by choosing a sidewalk brick to be installed at the H Street Plaza near "The Vigil," the bronze fishing memorial created by Blaine sculptor and Pacific Arts board member Bob McDermott.
The organization is also planning a special St. Patrick's Day event featuring musician Greta Matassa, Clipper Anderson and Darin Clendenin.
Blaine School District is a huge supporter of Jazz Camp and Festival, says Galbraith. The district rents the middle school and PAC to the festival for basically the cost of cleaning. The organization's largest expense covers the international festival faculty.
Students at the camp experience an intense week of music, with classes for jazz bands, large fusion groups, theory, composition, improvisation, jazz choir and solo vocal.
Ted DeCorso, the festival's artistic director since its inception, says "what is important to us is that we want to teach any young musician who has desire and interest, regardless of where they may happen to be in terms of development and economic viability." He adds that "the staff and residents of Whatcom County go the extra mile to ensure that any kid who has that spark of interest can in fact attend the festival."
Festival dates are July 7-13, with a variety of performances (mostly free, or by donation), around the city of Blaine. Details: blainejazz.org.
AMADEUS PROJECT MARKS FIFTH YEAR
If you're going on the monthly Downtown Art Walk on Friday, Dec. 7, mark The Amadeus Project on Cornwall Avenue (across from the Leopold) as one of your stops. The nonprofit arts center, which is celebrating five years in operation, will be open from 6 to 10 p.m. with music, art displays, chats with the artists and refreshments.
Tofer Wade and his wife, Andrea Rackl, founded the organization to provide educational opportunities in the creation and appreciation of music, the visual arts and literature. The warm and inviting venue offers performing and visual arts, all open to the public, and provides music and art education for students of all ages and experience levels.
Musicians, poets, visual artists, theater groups and music teachers make use of the space to present concerts, display art work and teach. Mount Baker Youth Symphony, Bellingham Sings!, poetrynight, The Jazz Project, Keyboard Friends Piano Concerts, The Amadeus Chamber Music Festival, SpeakEasy Poetry Group, numerous annual teacher recitals, as well as frequent one-time events have taken place at Amadeus, and the art gallery, overseen by a professional curator, has displayed the work of more than 30 local artists.
Two of the organization's goals are to increase the base of donors and corporate partners so programs can be self-sustaining, and develop long-term funding to expand Amadeus' services to schools. Details: 360-815-1825, theamadeusproject.org.