More than 360 music fans from around the world turned out to celebrate the Newport Jazz and Folk festivals at Newport Festivals Foundation’s Eighth Annual Gala held at The Elms on Saturday, August 4. The dinner event, which raised more than $660,000, included performances by pianist Jon Batiste, vocalist Jazzmeia Horn and a special duo by guitarist Pat Metheny and Jazz Festival Artistic Director and bassist Christian McBride.

“Thanks to a committed board of directors who love and respect the Newport Jazz and Folk festivals as much as I do, I am confident that my legacy will live on,” said George Wein, co-founder of the festivals and Chairman of the Board of Newport Festivals Foundation, which Wein established as a non-profit in 2010, in a press release on Monay.  “Under the direction of Executive Producer Jay Sweet and Jazz Artistic Director Christian McBride, our dedicated team puts together two festivals that remain at the forefront of live music events.”

The expenses of the Gala were totally underwritten by Newport Festivals Foundation’s Board of Directors, making it possible for every dollar contributed for seats and tables to go directly to support the mission of the Foundation.

Photo by Brian Lima, Newport Festivals Foundation

Proceeds from the Gala go toward continuing the legacy of the iconic festivals and supporting the Foundation’s music education initiatives, which include traveling ensemble performances, scholarships, instrument donations and after-school programs. The Foundation also provides student bands with unique opportunities to perform at the festivals.

Foundation Board Member Bill Vareika, and his wife Alison, owners of William Vareika Fine Arts, Ltd. in Newport, headed up the Gala Committee. The honorary committee included Governor Gina Raimondo; Jane Gerety, RSM; Senator Jack Reed; Senator Sheldon Whitehouse; Congressman Jim Langevin and Congressman David Cicilline.

“Alison and I are honored to have led the Gala Committee as co-chairs, and we are grateful that so many area residents turned out to support the Foundation and these world-renowned festivals,” said Bill Vareika in the release. “More than one-third of the tables were purchased by Newport residents, and it gives us great joy that our neighbors have claimed a stake in these great historic hometown events.”

Guests came from as far away as Italy with other attendees from the state of Washington, California, Colorado, Louisiana, Florida, Michigan, Washington, DC, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York and Pennsylvania.

The 2019 Newport Folk Festival® is set for July 26-28, followed by Bridgefest July 29- August 1 and the Newport Jazz Festival® presented by Natixis Investment Managers August 2-4. The annual Gala will be held on Saturday, August 3, at a location to be announced.

Newport Festivals Foundation fosters the legacy and expands the impact of its Festivals through educational initiatives that celebrate innovation while preserving the deep traditions inherent in Jazz and Folk music. The Foundation’s goal is to offer opportunity, inspire through exposure and facilitate the collection of resources needed for musicians to celebrate and innovate. The focus on creating unique experiences to spark engagement is accomplished through a variety of initiatives, including instrument donations and performances at schools throughout Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Connecticut and beyond. For more information, please


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