DaimlerChrysler Corp. will underwrite this year's festival in honor of Toledo-born jazz legend Art Tatum with a contribution of $50,000, the automaker and city officials announced yesterday.
The cash infusion will boost the attendance and prestige of the festival by ensuring funding for national performers, organizers said.
The festival is set for June 19-20 in International Park.
Mayor Jack Ford and Frank Fountain, senior vice president for government affairs for DaimlerChrysler, jointly announced the donation to the 2004 Art Tatum Jazz Heritage Festival. The mayor and Mr. Fountain staged the announcement in International Park with three gleaming new Chrysler vehicles parked behind them, with the jazz group The Murphys supplying the music.
Mr. Fountain said it is fitting to team up DaimlerChrysler, maker of Jeep, with a festival named after jazz pianist Art
"During Art's golden years at the keyboard, another Toledo legend also rose to fame - the all-American Jeep," Mr. Fountain said. "It is a pleasure to unite two of the greatest names in Toledo history in a worthy cause."
Jon Richardson, president of the Toledo Jazz Society, said DaimlerChrysler's advance funding will usher in an event that will be noted beyond the Toledo area.
"We are going to have a festival unlike any other," Mr. Richardson said. "We have civic leadership combined with corporate citizenship getting together with the arts to create an extraordinary cultural event for the citizenry of Toledo."
Mr. Richardson unveiled the commemorative poster designed for the festival by Toledo artist Tom McGlauchlin. Mr. Richardson said Toledo jazz singer Jon Hendricks will be the honorary festival chairman.
Mr. Ford also announced that the jazz group Pieces of a Dream will perform at the festival.
Mr. Tatum was born in Toledo in 1909 and lived on City Park Avenue. He moved to New York City in 1931 where he quickly gained recognition as one of the outstanding soloists in the history of jazz. Mr. Tatum died of kidney disease in Los Angeles in 1956.