Monterey, Calif., March 23, 2022 – The Monterey Jazz Festival, the world’s longest continuously-running jazz festival, founded as a 501c3 non-profit in 1958, today pledged its commitment to confront bias, promote equity and honor the Black roots of jazz music by issuing its first Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion statement.
As an integral part of the organization’s 2018 strategic plan, the Monterey Jazz Festival’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committee has been working on the new statement for the past 18 months with the guidance and input from The Justice Collective, an Oakland-based social impact consulting firm that brings a racial equity lens to traditional organizational development. The committee is comprised of staff and board members who provide organizational context and history, as well as future direction and visioning. Its core focus is ensuring Monterey Jazz Festival’s focus on diversity and equity on and off the bandstand.
“I am proud of the intentional and thoughtful work that the entire organization has engaged in throughout this past year,” said Letty Ledbetter, Chairperson of Monterey Jazz Festival’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee. “The final statement articulates Monterey Jazz Festival’s commitment to prioritizing DEI principals moving forward.”
MJF’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion statement recognizes the Black roots of jazz music, and that the genre has traditionally shut women out from participation. It articulates the Monterey Jazz Festival’s belief that a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion is essential to the mission of the festival and every aspect of the Monterey Jazz Festival organization year-round.
Monterey Jazz Festival Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Statement:
Jazz sits within American culture as a singular and distinctive art-form. It has been created by, perpetuated by, and anchored in Black voices and culture. Since 1958, Monterey Jazz Festival has led the world in supporting and advocating for this legendary art-form. Entwined in this story are two realities. Jazz has historically shuttered participation by women. Monterey Jazz Festival audiences have largely consisted of white males, due to geography and the fact that Black and female audiences have not been cultivated and maintained. To be on the path of diversity, equity, and inclusion these realities must be addressed in the policies and practices of Monterey Jazz Festival. As leaders in the field, to make change, we will look to these truths. We affirm our commitment to continuing to question our role within this important community of artists, to create innovative and accessible education and music programs that expand who experiences, performs, and receives this beautiful music.
The Monterey Jazz Festival takes its inspiration from the ethos of jazz and derives its strength from the diversity and inclusion inherent in the art-form. We strive to reflect these values both on and off the bandstand, and in every aspect of the organization — the board, professional staff and employees, volunteers, vendors, artists, students, donors, and attendees.
The mission of Monterey Jazz Festival is to inspire the discovery and celebration of jazz, anchored by an iconic festival. Founded in 1958, the Monterey Jazz Festival celebrates the legacy of jazz, expands its boundaries, and provides opportunities to experience jazz through the creative production of performances and educational programs.
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