SF JazzFest Kicks Off, Future Funding May Decrease

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – For three nights, on two stages, more than 25 artists are performing all different kinds of music at Yankton Trail Park in Sioux Falls. While organizers are happy this years’ Sioux Falls JazzFest is finally underway, there is some concern about the festival next year, and that’s due to funding issues.

“We’re always concerned about making sure the budget doesn’t decrease,” says Executive Director for Sioux Falls Jazz and Blues, the non-profit behind the Sioux Falls JazzFest, Rob Joyce.

With booking bands, finding vendors, and setting up the two stages and multiple tents at JazzFest, putting on the three-day festival isn’t cheap.

“Most of our money will come from the sale of beverages,” says Joyce. “We also have sponsors here in Sioux Falls that help us out with money as well. People can donate at the gate and help us out, but we also write grants.”

This year through state grants Sioux Falls Jazz and Blues received $34,000, half of which goes straight to the festival. But next year, that money could go down.

“Without that we would have a small hole in our budgets, that would make it difficult for us to continue some of our programming,” says Joyce.

The state is able to give money to art programs through a federal agency; the National Endowment for the Arts. Back in March, President Trump proposed getting rid of the NEA. But U.S. House representatives are considering decreasing the agencies funds instead, by about $5 million. So the NEA would have $140 million dollars to give out, instead of $145 that they had this year.

“We’d love to see it continue to rise, but anything is better than it going away totally,” says Joyce.

Funding cuts could have a ripple effect on Jazz Fest. With less money, the event could be a smaller festival in the future. Something organizers hope doesn’t happen.

“The art that we produce is really an important part of the culture of who we are as South Dakotans, I think it helps with our identity, it helps us with the creative side of who we are and what’s important to us,” says Joyce. “That is what art is all about.”

A lack of funds could also affect many other art programs as well. Sioux Falls Jazz and Blues also funds outreach educational programs that would take a hit. In total, the state has granted $1.3 million dollars to art programs, which came from NEA and tourism promotion tax money.

The national budget still has to go through the general appropriations committee and then Congress will take a look at it.

JazzFest will continue through Saturday with blues guitarist Johnny Land taking the stage at 10 Saturday night.

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