Monterey Jazz Festival Issues Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Statement

The legendary Monterey Jazz Festival made history ahead of its 65th installment pledging its commitment to confront bias, promote equity and honor the Black roots of jazz music by issuing its first Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion statement. Set to take place at the Monterey County Fairgrounds in Monterey, CA September 23-25, the festival was founded in 1958 as a 501c3 non-profit and is the the world’s longest continuously running jazz festival.


Monterey Jazz Festival Press Photo via Facebook

According to a press release, the statement is an integral part of the organization’s 2018 strategic plan. The Monterey Jazz Festival’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committee has been working on the new statement for the past 18 months with the guidance and input from The Justice Collective, an Oakland-based social impact consulting firm. The resulting statement articulates the Monterey Jazz Festival’s belief that a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion is essential to the mission of the event and its organizaton. It also recognizes the black roots of jazz music, and that the genre has traditionally shut out women. 

“I am proud of the intentional and thoughtful work that the entire organization has engaged in throughout this past year,” said Letty Ledbetter, Chairperson of Monterey Jazz Festival’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee in a press release. “The final statement articulates Monterey Jazz Festival’s commitment to prioritizing DEI principals moving forward.”

Read the full statement below.

Monterey Jazz Festival Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Statement:

Jazz sits within American culture as a singular and distinctive art form. It has been created by, perpetuated by, and anchored in Black voices and culture. Having begun presenting jazz in 1958, Monterey Jazz Festival has led the world in supporting and advocating for this legendary art form. Entwined in this story are two realities. Jazz has historically shuttered participation by women. Monterey Jazz Festival audiences have largely consisted of white males, due to geography and the fact that Black and female audiences have not been cultivated and maintained. To be on the path of diversity, equity, and inclusion these realities must be addressed in the policies and practices of Monterey Jazz Festival. As leaders in the field, to make change, we will look to these truths. We affirm our commitment to continuing to question our role within this important community of artists, to create innovative and accessible education and music programs that expand who experiences, performs, and receives this beautiful music.


The Monterey Jazz Festival takes its inspiration from the ethos of jazz and derives its strength from the diversity and inclusion inherent in the art-form. We strive to reflect these values both on and off the bandstand, and in every aspect of the organization — the board, professional staff and employees, volunteers, vendors, artists, students, donors, and attendees.


This year’s diverse Monterey Jazz Festival lineup includes Gregory Porter, Chuco Valdez, Veronica Swift, Dee Dee Bridgwater, Brubeck Brother Quartet, Artemis, Ravi Coltrane, Butcher Brown and many more.  For more information and how to purchase tickets, click on the links below.


Monterey Jazz Festival






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