At the end of April, the Music Performance Trust Fund (MPTF), the Film Funds Trust Fund, and Local 72-147 (Dallas-Ft. Worth, TX) helped Denton, Texas, celebrate its arts community at the Denton Arts and Jazz Festival. This free public event features around 3,000 performers and attracts more than 200,000 attendees annually. All of the musicians paid to perform at the event are union members.
This year’s acts included Dr. John, a member of Locals 174-496 (New Orleans, LA) and 802 (New York City); the University of North Texas Faculty Jazz Ensemble, members of Local 72-147; and Denton’s own Brave Combo, also members of Local 72-147.
Because Denton is AFM President Ray Hair’s home town, each year he rolls up his sleeves and heads to Texas to help run the event over the entire three days. It’s a chance for him to interact and connect with member musicians in their community.
“We started the event as DentonJazzfest 30 years ago, on a Sunday afternoon, on a flatbed trailer, in the park, with Brave Combo and the UNT Jazz Faculty, all sponsored by MPTF and former Fort Worth Local 72,” says AFM President Ray Hair. “Each year, it became more popular and eventually morphed into Denton Arts and Jazz Festival, attracting hundreds of thousands of festivalgoers.”
This year AFM Freelance Services Membership Development Director Paul Sharpe also attended. Sharpe interacted with performing musicians, discussing musician issues and needs and answering questions at the grass-roots level. He also collected a wealth of video commentary about the union from its members.
For the first time, MPTF Trustee Dan Beck and Film Funds Trustee Robert Jaffe visited the event.
“What impressed me most was the spirit of joy and participation, not only among the performers, but among the attendees as well,” says Jaffe. “Despite some unpredictable, and sometimes downright inclement weather, the attendance was great, the music was outstanding, and the crowds were unbelievably responsive.”
“The festival’s impact on the entire Denton community was visibly evident. Beyond the free public performances of celebrity talent, the extraordinary participation of music students at all age levels was impressive and every bit of what the MPTF advocates,” concludes Beck.