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Walker Art Center wins Jazz.NEXT grant

The Walker Art Center has received a $97,900 Jazz.NEXT grant from the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation.

The grant, one of five awarded nationally to support jazz through the use of technology, will be used by the Walker to test new and existing technological approaches to broaden its jazz audiences and deepen their experiences. The money will go to developing content for mobile and web-based applications, including blogs and webcasts; buying new hardware; and funding a one-year administrative Jazz/New Media Fellow position.

The Walker has hosted a lot of interesting jazz in recent years, with more coming up. The 2009-2010 Performing Arts Season features several jazz events, including a co-presentation with the Northrop Music Season (Dafnis Prieto Sextet on Nov. 21), a Bill Frisell commission, and a two-day celebration of drummer Dave King (The Bad Plus, Happy Apple). Its website is content-rich and easy to use. After I missed pianist/composer Jason Moran’s appearance there in May, when he talked about his career, I was able to watch and listen online.

Other Jazz.NEXT grant recipients include the National Federation of Community Broadcasters, National Public Radio, the Monterey Jazz Festival and the Savannah Music Festival.

Side note (and not to rain on the Walker’s parade): The Canada Council recently axed its Canadian Musical Diversity program, which funded “specialized” music, including jazz. In a typical year, Canada Council grants supported 30 to 40 jazz recordings. Most of that money ($900,000) will be redirected to “digital market development.” In our rush to embrace all things digital, let’s not forget to fund artists themselves.

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