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NEA Jazz Masters No More?

Nat Hentoff riffs on the NEA's recent budget sent to Congress, eliminating the Jazz Masters program

I recently received from the National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Masters 1982-2011, a large, handsomely produced history of the award that former NEA Chairman Dana Gioia worked hard to make the Pulitzer Prize of jazz. In his introduction, present NEA Chairman Rocco Landesman writes, “It’s hard to think of an aspect of our country’s history and culture that jazz hasn’t touched since its origin.”

Somehow, omitted from this “Message From the Chairman” was a Feb. 15 news story from NPR’s A Blog Supreme: “NEA Jazz Masters Award to Disappear Under New Federal Budget Plan.” The story’s explanation is misleading: “President Obama’s 2012 budget proposal, delivered to Congress on [Feb. 14], proposes to eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts’ Jazz Masters Award. The change is one part of a significant budget reduction for the NEA at large.”

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Originally Published
Nat Hentoff

Nat Hentoff

Over more than 60 years, Nat Hentoff (1925-2017) wrote about music, politics, and many other subjects for a variety of publications, including DownBeat (which he edited from 1953 to 1957), the Village Voice (where he was a weekly columnist from 1958 to 2009), the Wall Street Journal, and JazzTimes, to which he regularly contributed the Final Chorus column from 1998 to 2012. Of the 32 books that he wrote, co-wrote, or edited, 10 focus on jazz. In 2004, Hentoff became the first recipient of the National Endowment for the Arts’ Jazz Masters award for jazz advocacy.