03/31/14

Michigan Congressman Conyers Reintroduces Jazz Preservation Bill

Bill promotes jazz education, maintenance of archives and more

A United States Congressman, Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.), has reintroduced his jazz appreciation bill, H.R. 4280, titled the “National Jazz Preservation, Education, and Promulgation Act of 2014.” Conyers recently attended the Smithsonian Institution’s Jazz Appreciation Month kickoff concert. Prior to the event, Congressman Conyers issued the following statement:

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Congressman John Conyers presents the keynote address as Ed Lewis from BET on Jazz looks on at the 2000 Billboard BET on Jazz Award Show
By Jeffrey Kliman
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Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.)

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“This legislation builds upon H. Con. Res. 57, the landmark jazz legislation passed in 1987, which recognized ‘jazz as a rare and valuable national treasure.’ Passed on September 23, 1987, John Coltrane’s birthday, it was an incredibly important moment in the history of this most American of art forms. However, like so many important efforts, its potential has not yet been fully realized,” said Conyers.

“H.R. 4280 seizes upon the three goals stated in H. Con. Res. 57—preservation, education, and promulgation—and actually creates programs to achieve those ends.

“The first element, preservation, creates in the Smithsonian Institution a Jazz Preservation Program that will secure artifacts from jazz history and work with groups across the country to maintain collections that tell the story of jazz from its inception to its present, and which will provide learning opportunities for jazz enthusiasts nationwide.

“The understanding component is achieved through two different means. It establishes an education program, Jazz Artists in the Schools, which will ensure that children have access to an enriched curriculum that builds jazz performances into the students’ education. And it also reconstitutes international cultural exchanges built around Jazz music, called Ambassadors of Jazz, which the U.S. State Department first initiated in the 1950s.

“Finally, H.R. 4280 adds a promulgation prong that responds to grassroots input. It supports this goal of promulgation by creating a National Jazz Appreciation Program at the Smithsonian Institution, in coordination with the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, which will develop a nationwide series of concerts that showcases the diversity and vitality of jazz.

“H.Con.Res. 57 marked a momentous occasion - the formal recognition of jazz as America’s music and the securing of its place in history. H.R. 4280 fulfills the promise of that recognition, ensuring that our children’s children have access to the music that has influenced so much of our history and so many of our lives.”

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