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Jazz Holiday to go solo this year

The Clearwater Jazz Holiday, which has spent a decade under the wing of the Greater Clearwater Chamber of Commerce, is about to fly on its own. The non-profit Clearwater Jazz Holiday Foundation is being established to operate the popular four-day festival held every year in Clearwater's Coachman Park, said Nancy Kaylor, chairwoman of the Jazz Holiday Task Force.

"It enables us to do a few more things than we could under the auspices of the Chamber," Kaylor said. She said the organization hopes to use profits from the festival to pay to have jazz performers tour local schools and to increase scholarships given to area students.

The move also should help the Chamber, which has devoted a big portion of its staff time to putting on the holiday, said Chamber president David P. Stone.

"The bigger it gets, the more difficult it becomes to manage," Stone said.

In past years, any profits from the event went to the Chamber. Last year's festival earned about $22,000 for the Chamber, about half of what the Chamber budgeted. Cold, rainy weather kept attendance and profits lower than normal.

But those figures don't include the staff time the Chamber put into the festival, which Stone said was worth as much as $25,000 or $30,000.

The new non-profit corporation will operate the Jazz Holiday without hiring full-time staff, Kaylor said. "The volunteers will be working a little harder this year than ever before."

The Chamber contributed $5,000 for the foundation's start-up costs.

The task force also may seek extra volunteers and may apply for grants, Kaylor said. It will continue to seek sponsors for the event.

The Jazz Holiday is one of Clearwater's biggest annual entertainment events, along with the Fun 'n Sun Festival. The holiday last year attracted Sonny Rollins, Mose Allison and other jazz headliners. It attracted more than 70,000 people to downtown Clearwater. This year the festival will be Oct. 18-21.

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