Detroit International Jazz Festival Foundation
The Detroit International Jazz Festival Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization formed in 2006 now manages and produces Detroit Jazz Festival. Through the generosity of Detroit philanthropist and Mack Avenue Records Chairman Gretchen Valade the Foundation also established a $10 million endowment to support festival operations. The festival staff and advisory committee work throughout the year to raise the balance of operating costs through corporate partnerships, contributions, and earned-income opportunities.
The Detroit International Jazz Festival was founded in 1980 by Robert McCabe and the Detroit Renaissance. Along with the Detroit Grand Prix and the International Freedom Festival, Jazz Fest was intended to bring people into the city and to provide all segments of the population with world-class entertainment. It quickly became a Labor Day Weekend tradition at Hart Plaza.
From 1980 to 1991, the festival flourished through a partnership with the highly regarded international jazz festival in Montreux, Switzerland, sharing performers and commissioned poster art. In 1991, the festival merged with Detroit’s Music Hall Center for the Performing Arts, where it resided until September 2005. The festival expanded programmatically and physically. The new footprint, covering three blocks of Woodward Avenue north to Campus Martius Park, provided two additional stages and more space for food vendors and other activities. The result was record-breaking attendance and revitalization of the festival that continues to this day.