Our View: Appoint a Coltrane Festival commission

Dec. 09, 2012 @ 01:25 AM

New High Point Mayor Bernita Sims has set about organizing and appointing three special commissions she talked about during her campaign this fall. She sees these commissions — to promote the livability and vitality of High Point and to stimulate more citizen involvement — as vital to High Point’s future.
Sims plans to appoint a Mayor’s Commission on Youth and Families to tackle issues affecting families in High Point. She also will appoint a Mayor’s Millennial Commission with the aim of bringing individuals ages 15 through 35 into the planning process to effect change in the city, and a Mayor’s Commission on Arts and Culture to “ensure that the city is culturally, artistically and recreationally vibrant.”
Her vision for these commissions is sound.
While she’s appointing commissions, however, we’d encourage the mayor to appoint one to explore another topic important to the city ­— the John Coltrane International Jazz and Blues Festival.
The festival, held for the first time Labor Day weekend in 2011 and then again this past September, is reaching a crucial point; its ability to survive is coming into question. After putting on daylong events twice in Festival Park at Oak Hollow Lake, the sponsoring group — Friends of John Coltrane — has little or no seed money left for putting on a third event next September. And many in High Point believe the group eventually should repay the city the remaining $27,000 from a $32,000 allocation the city made in 2011.
The mayor’s Coltrane Festival commission could include representatives of the Friends organization, city and Guilford County governments, tourism promotion professionals such as the High Point Convention and Visitors Bureau, the local tourism industry, the High Point Museum and possibly others. The commission could examine areas such as funding source feasibility, alternate locations and/or dates for the festival, types of activities currently included and what others might be included, how Coltrane’s history in High Point might be better showcased and, importantly, just what role the city of High Point might play in staging this event.
We suggested earlier this year that perhaps an answer to questions about the festival’s future might be to bring the event under an arm of the city. Now would seem to be a good time for that idea to be explored by a Coltrane Festival commission.
Sims has been a leader in developing the festival, and now by appointing a mayor’s commission, she could put in motion a vehicle to examine the last two year’s experience, the Coltrane Festival’s potential benefits to the greater High Point area and what might be required to realize it.
The slated time for the third John Coltrane Jazz and Blues Festival is just nine months away. Action is needed now.