North Texas Daily

University concert stage returns to Arts & Jazz festival after receiving outside funding

University concert stage returns to Arts & Jazz festival after receiving outside funding

University concert stage returns to Arts & Jazz festival after receiving outside funding
July 22
09:00 2021

The university’s concert stage at the Denton Arts & Jazz Festival will return this year after receiving funding from a local attorney. 

Tim Powers, a criminal defense attorney who practices in both Collin and Denton County, has pledged the necessary $15,000 to sponsor the stage. Powers’ offer comes after the University Brand Strategy and Communications department decided not to continue its sponsorship of the festival stage, citing the required investment of time and money. 

“The pandemic created such a huge disruption in the performing arts in Denton and around the world,” College of Music Dean John Richmond said. “Mr. Powers’ vision to support this important Denton tradition and UNT’s internationally respected College of Music is a source of profound inspiration and so much gratitude.”

Powers has been the self-described “hugest fan of the One O’clock Lab Band” and other university lab bands “for years,” according to the Denton Record Chronicle. His firm will continue to sponsor the concert stage in the coming years. Powers told the North Texas Daily he “wasn’t sponsoring [the festival] for the publicity.”

UBSC Vice President Jim Berscheidt said the decision to end the sponsorship was actually made in 2020 “after a review of spending related to general university marketing.” However, the 2020 festival was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The decision was made public on June 22, 2021, in a Facebook post by Ed Soph, a retired faculty member of the COM. 

The concert stage’s sponsorship was formerly part of the general university marketing budget housed in the UBSC department. Berscheidt said “those funds are designated for branding and marketing the entire university” and there are no other sponsorships funded through the budget.

Last year’s decision to move the sponsorship out of the budget was communicated to an unnamed faculty member who had previously worked on the festival event. Berscheidt did not confirm if a university official notified any other COM staff of the decision to end the sponsorship when it was first made in 2020.   

“The fact that the [office of UBSC] had been paying for the stage is something I didn’t know until recently because those transactions were not in the College of Music books,” Richmond said.

Austin Ford, jazz studies alumnus and trumpet player, played at the festival in 2018 and 2019 with the Three O’Clock, Two O’Clock and Latin Jazz Lab bands. He planned to play with the One O’Clock Lab Band in April of 2020 and 2021 if not for COVID-19.

“This festival is one of the main draws for people entering the College of Music,” Ford said. “I have several friends who were on the fence about coming to UNT and after they went to the Denton Arts and Jazz Festival and saw the UNT bands play, they instantly knew UNT was the right choice for them.”

This year’s Arts & Jazz festival will be held from Oct. 1 to 3 in Quakertown Park. The event is free to attend. Additional information about the specific university ensembles playing and the performance schedule will be released in mid-to-late in August. 

“The experience [of playing at the festival] was absolutely amazing,” Ford said. “It was one of the biggest crowds I’ve performed for live, probably over a thousand people at certain points. […] The energy was incredible too, people were dancing and having a great time.”

Featured Image: The outside of the UNT Paul Voertman Concert Hall on July 31, 2021. Image by  John Anderson

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Ileana Garnand

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