Rollie Atkinson Named Board Chair of Healdsburg Jazz Festival

Festival launches 15th season.


 Healdsburg Jazz Festival launched its 15th season with an election of a full board of directors and officers.

New Board Chair is Rollie Atkinson, publisher of The Healdsburg Tribune.

“We are coming off another outstanding festival year and are just about at full-gear in putting our 2013 festival venues and musical lineups together,” Atkinson said. “There’s no doubt that we’re on a good roll, thanks to our many loyal volunteers, generous patrons and sponsors and a very faithful following of jazz lovers.”

At its first meeting of the jazz organization’s new fiscal year, seven of the board members were re-elected to new 2-year terms with two others also continuing. Directors are past chair Gloria Hersch, new chair Atkinson, vice-chair Elizabeth Candelario, secretary Ed Flesch, treasurer Dennis Abbe, Loretta Rosas, Roy Gattinella and Randy Coleman. Artistic director and festival founder Jessica Felix also serves on the nine-member board.

Last year’s festival featured such jazz masters as Roy Haynes, Sheila Jordan, Kenny Burrell, Freddy Cole and Billy Hart, among others. Other jazz greats that have appeared at the festival has included a “who’s who” of the jazz world including McCoy Tyner, Dave Brubeck, Fred Hersch, Charles Lloyd, Zakir Hussein, Randy Weston, Abbey Lincoln, Charlie Haden, Julian Lage, Kenny Barron, Billy Higgins and many, many more.

“No one should expect less for our big 15th year,” promised Atkinson. “Thanks to the increased support from several new individual patrons and the incredible ongoing contributions of our original patrons and members, the festival organization is on pretty stable footing.”

That doesn’t mean new and critical support is not needed, he added. The festival has always relied on charitable donations, corporate sponsorships and granting agencies such as the National Endowment for the Arts and others.

“The HJF is the most widely promoted cultural event in Healdsburg and northern Sonoma County,” said Felix. “As Artistic Director, I repeatedly emphasize that we don’t just promote the festival, we promote Healdsburg and Sonoma County.” 

In addition to the festival itself, the non-profit organization places a special emphasis on the highly acclaimed and cherished Jazz Education Program offered to Healdsburg-area public schools. In a world of shrinking public education funds, this program has exposed more than 10,000 students to jazz, its origins, its celebrities and its sounds. 

Sponsorships play an essential role in the Healdsburg Jazz Festival. As is true for most cultural organizations, ticket sales cover only 30 percent of the annual income. HJF education programs rely entirely on sponsorships, business partnerships, fundraisers and contributions for their existence.

As the 15th year is being launched, the “little festival that could” is eager to bring new corporate, wine and hospitality entities and jazz patrons on board. “We are committed to creating many new and expanded mutually beneficial and strategic marketing partnerships here in our wine country and beyond,” said Atkinson.

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