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George Wein Gives and Receives at Four Arts Celebrations This Fall


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World-renowned jazz impresario and philanthropist George Wein continues his life-long support of and dedication to the arts this fall at celebrations and ceremonies hosted by The Studio Museum in Harlem, the Alliance of New York State Arts Organizations, WBGO-FM and the Romare Bearden Foundation.

In memory of his wife, who passed away in August 2005, George Wein established the Joyce Alexander Wein Artist Prize, which was presented to Lorna Simpson at The Studio Museum in Harlem on Monday, October 30. The Prize recognizes and honors the artistic achievements of an African-American artist who demonstrates great innovation, promise and creativity. A dedicated trustee of The Studio Museum in Harlem, Joyce Wein was also a founder of the New York Coalition of 100 Black Women and a major fundraiser for The Harlem Children's Zone. Together, Joyce and George created an outstanding collection of African American art, which was shown publicly for the first time at the Boston University Art Gallery November 2005 - January 2006. In addition, the Weins established the Joyce and George Wein Chair of African American Studies at Boston University (George's alma mater) and the Alexander Family Endowed Scholarship Fund at Simmons College, where Joyce earned a degree in chemistry in 1948.

Wein also offers his support as an honorary chair of the Celebration of the Arts in New York State Awards Gala, sponsored by the Alliance of New York State Arts Organizations, at the Manhattan Penthouse on Wednesday, November 15. This year's honorees are Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation, Jon Faddis, Jeffrey Hoone and Lightwork and UBS. The Alliance of New York State Arts Organizations, which has a 30-year history as New York's service association for community based arts and cultural organizations, informs the field on statewide and national issues affecting the arts and assists local arts agencies in building community support.

Wein, who celebrated his 81st birthday at the 11th annual Bermuda Music Festival on October 3, is also on the receiving end of arts honors this fall. George (and legendary jazz singer Abbey Lincoln) will be honored at WBGO's third annual Champions of Jazz Gala at Pleasantdale Chateau in West Orange, NJ, on Thursday, November 2. The proceeds support WBGO's many educational initiatives including free children's jazz concerts throughout New Jersey and New York; free concerts for adults; free exhibits of art created by and about jazz artists; a partnership with Newark public schools to bring jazz artists and music to the classroom; and a web site which provides information and links to numerous jazz and music resources and streams WBGO to a worldwide audience.

On September 18, The Romare Bearden Foundation honored Wein (and NBA star Grant Hill) as philanthropists “who embody through their life's work the qualities that inspired Bearden as an artist, arts patron, humanist and institution builder." Instituted by the estate of the artist in 1990, the organization has the distinction of being one of the oldest foundations established by the estate of an African-American visual artist. The Foundation provides grants to talented art students, art programs that nurture the creativity of children and to cultural institutions that assist deserving artists as well as preserves and perpetuates Bearden's artistic and intellectual legacy.

Wein, who has a long history of philanthropy and involvement with the arts, is best known for creating and organizing the Newport Jazz Festival in 1954. This outdoor festival changed the way music was presented and paved the way for jazz and music festivals around the world. In 1963, George and his wife, along with Pete and Toshi Seeger, founded the Newport Folk Festival. Wein also spearheaded the Newport Opera Festival, the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival and the Grande Parade du Jazz in Nice, France. In 1969, he established Festival Productions, Inc., which produces hundreds of music events each year, including the JVC Jazz Festival, Essence Music Festival, Verizon Music Festival and the Bermuda Music Festival. Wein continues to perform as a pianist, touring around the world with his group, the Newport All-Stars.

Wein's autobiography, Myself Among Others: A Life in Music (Da Capo Press), was recognized by the Jazz Journalists Association as 2004's best book about jazz. Other awards and honors include France's Legion d Honneur for his creation of the contemporary jazz festival and Commandeur de Lordre des Arts et Lettres; New York Urban League Frederick Douglass Award; the Pratt Institute Achievement Award; the Da Capo Lifetime Achievement Award for Cultural Innovation; and the Hampton Institute Centennial Medallion Citation. In 2004, a sculpture of Wein was unveiled at the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, RI, in honor of the 50th Anniversary of the Newport Jazz Festival, and last year, he was awarded a National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Masters Fellowship. Wein is a member of the Board of Trustees of Carnegie Hall, the Apollo Theatre Foundation and Jazz @ Lincoln Center.

For more information on George Wein, Festival Productions, Inc., and these cultural organizations, please visit festivalproductions.net, studiomuseum.org, thealliancenys.org, wbgo.org and beardenfoundation.org.

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