The end of the Jazz Masters

For thirty years, the National Endowment for the Arts has honored jazz musicians with the highest award for the genre, the NEA Jazz Masters Award. The recipients of the 2012 NEA Jazz Masters Award (including Jack DeJohnette, Von” Freeman, Sr., Charlie Haden, Sheila Jordan, and Jimmy Owens), will apparently be the last group to earn the $25,000 fellowship.

The National Endowment of the Arts’ FY-12 Appropriations Request cut $21 million dollars, returning to its 2008 funding level.

Among the changes include the establishment of “American Artists of the Year awards,” which will “remove specific reference to Jazz, Folk, and Opera” and give discipline awards annually in two categories:

  • Performing Arts: Dance/Music/Opera/Musical Theater/Theater
  • Visual Arts: Design/Media Arts/Museums/Visual Arts (including crafts)

The way I read it, it means no more Jazz Masters. Also from the report:

Replacement of the large-scale honorific celebrations in Jazz, Opera, and Folk and Traditional Arts with a less expensive effort which celebrates all of the arts (consistent with our 2012 legislative request).

Previous winners include Count Basie, Dave Brubeck, Miles Davis, and Sarah Vaughan, just to name four of the 123 recipients. The first NEA Jazz Masters awards were given in 1982.

National Endowment for the Arts Announces the 2012 NEA Jazz Masters