The Jazzcat

The International Association for Jazz Education has filed for Bankruptcy.

by on Apr.19, 2008, under News

Jazz music continues to take so many hits. The International Association for Jazz Education conference has been for so many not only educational, informative, entertaining and a great resource, but one of the greatest networking jazz hangs around.

Dear IAJE Family,

It is with a

great sense of loss that I inform you that despite drastic efforts to cut

expenses and raise emergency funds, the IAJE Board has voted to file for

bankruptcy under Chapter 7 of the Federal Bankruptcy Law. I want to thank

profusely those who responded with their generous donations and offers of

assistance following my last communication. While over 250 individuals

contributed just over $12,000, this, along with the many other efforts and

contributions of IAJE staff, Board members, and association partners, was simply

not enough to address the accumulated debt of the organization or its urgent

need for cash relief.

In the next few days, a Kansas bankruptcy court

will appoint a trustee to oversee all ongoing aspects of the association. This

includes the ability to examine IAJE's financial records and mount an

independent inquiry into the causes of it's financial downfall as well as

disposing of the remaining assets of the association with proceeds distributed

to creditors in accordance with Kansas and Federal law. The board will no longer

be involved in operation of the organization and will at some point resign. IAJE

as it presently stands will no longer exist.

Approximately a week after

filing, all potential creditors of the association will receive notice of the

association's filing from the court. Members who desire additional information

regarding the petition, including a complete listing of association assets and

liabilities, may retrieve this, as it is a public document, through normal court

procedures. Undoubtedly, however, you will have more immediate questions

deserving of responses I hope to address in this report.

Since the first

communication to the membership outlining this crisis, there has been

considerable public speculation as to its causes. As noted in that

communication, years of dependence upon the conference as a primary (but

unreliable) revenue stream and the launch of a well-intentioned capital campaign

(the Campaign for Jazz), which generated a meager response but required

considerable expenditures in advance of contributions, drove the association

into insolvency. Sadly, the attendance at the conference in Toronto (the lowest

in 10 years) exacerbated an already critical situation, depriving the

association of the cash-flow needed to continue daily operations as well as the

time needed to seek alternative resources.

While ultimately not able to

skirt the financial land mines placed in its path, I want to assure you the IAJE

Board has acted responsibly, ethically, and with a sense of urgency ever since

it was blindsided last fall with the discovery of the extent of the accumulated

association debt. Since that time, the board slashed spending, set specific

performance targets for the Executive Director, sought outside consultations,

and enlisted the services of several past-presidents and strategic association

partners in attempts to raise funds – sadly, with minimal success.


goes without saying, the board you elected is comprised of very accomplished,

intelligent, and dedicated educators and professionals who have given generously

of their time in service to this association and care about it passionately.

Likewise, our entire professional staff, led by Associate Executive Director,

Vivian Orndorff, and Executive Producer, Steve Baker, has worked heroically in

the face of declining resources to meet the needs of the association and its

members. I wanted to take this opportunity to thank both the board and staff for

their service. I have been privileged and honored to serve with them. While

there may be those who question specific decisions or strategies in efforts to

meet this crisis, the dedication and integrity of these individuals should never

be in doubt.

As we move forward, one of the most pressing questions is

how the operations of individual chapters and affiliated associations will be

affected by this filing. Since our chapters are either separate corporate

entitles or voluntary associations with their own boards, constitutions and

bylaws; IAJE views them as completely independent entities. Ultimately, however,

the trustee and the court will make this determination and it is anticipated

that the trustee may request certain information from the chapters in this


Sadly, the 2009 IAJE International Conference in Seattle has been

cancelled. However, there has been some discussion of mounting a regional

conference in its place. At the moment, Lou Fischer, U.S. Board Representative

is fielding inquiries:

For the

time being, the IAJE website will remain up. However, the international offices

of IAJE will close their doors at the end of the day on Friday, April 18th.

Should there be additional questions you may submit them to and

every attempt will be made to respond to these as staffing allows.


we, the members of IAJE and the global jazz community, face an extremely

important task. For, as we all recognize, the opportunities, impact, and work of

this association are too vital to simply disappear. Whether you were first drawn

to IAJE for its conference, its magazine or research publications, its student

scholarship programs such as Sisters in Jazz or the Clifford Brown/Stan Getz

All-Stars, its Teacher Training Institutes, the resources provided through its

website or Resource Team, or any one of a number of other offerings; it is clear

the mission of IAJE still resonates and its advocacy is needed today more than

ever. We must, therefore, look at this as an opportunity to refocus the mission,

scope, programs, and vision of IAJE (or whatever succeeds it) to better meet the

needs of our members and the jazz community not only today but looking toward

the future.

I am, in no way, suggesting the membership turn a blind eye

towards the need for an independent inquiry into causes and ultimately assigning

responsibility for this situation. I ask you recognize the court appointed

trustee, who will have access to all necessary documents and facts, is charged

with that task. Our efforts and our passion, should be to collectively rally the

community to recognize the importance IAJE has had and continues to have in the

life and development of jazz and jazz education – seeking new strategic

partnerships, new government structures, and a revitalized mission that embraces

current needs.

Already there are efforts to do just that. I know that

Mary Jo Papich, who would have begun serving her term as President of IAJE

beginning this July, is dedicated to recreating such an association. As many

know, Mary Jo has been a tireless advocate for IAJE, serving it long and well.

You will, undoubtedly, be hearing from her in the near future. When she does

contact you, I urge you to join me in offering her every support and assistance.

Of course, others may also seek to fill this void by promoting alternative

visions for empowering, serving, and gathering the jazz community. While I

generally believe such diversity is quite healthy, I would strongly encourage

all such efforts and leaders to attempt to collaborate and seek ways to unite us

in spirit and strength.

Finally, I would encourage you to recognize and

remember IAJE for all the tremendous good it has done in the past 40 years. Many

individuals have contributed along the way, often at considerable personal

sacrifice of their time and resources, to establish and advance the work of this

association. Much has been achieved that can never be taken away! Therefore, the

vision, effort, and shared passion that have fueled the growth of IAJE and its

programs should not be forgotten or considered in vain. Rather, the spirit that

is IAJE must be rekindled into a new vision for the future.


The IAJE Board – Chuck Owen, President


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