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Springfield Jazz & Roots Festival returning with help from MassDevelopment Grant

June 15, 2021 : The Republican, by Elizabeth Román

SPRINGFIELD — After having to go virtual in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Springfield Jazz & Roots Festival will return to downtown Springfield this summer.

The festival is now in its eighth year and has traditionally been held in Court Square. Organizers are bringing the festival back on Aug. 14 with some help from MassDevelopment, which has awarded a $10,000 grant to Blues to Green, Inc., the nonprofit organization that presents the jazz festival every year.

The money comes from the agency’s Commonwealth Places COVID-19 Response Fund. Blues to Green, Inc. will also crowdfund this summer. If the organization reaches its $40,000 goal it will receive an additional $40,000 matching grant from MassDevelopment.

“Before this pandemic, the vibrant centers of our cities and towns were not only a driving force behind the strength of local economies, they were the places where we gathered to dine, to shop, and to be entertained, and the Commonwealth Places program is one way that we can help these areas bounce back stronger than ever,” said Housing and Economic Development Secretary Mike Kennealy, who serves as chair of MassDevelopment’s Board of Directors.

Kristin Neville, executive director of Blues to Green, said they are still working out the details of where the event will be held, what musicians will be featured and how long the day will be.

“We are still solidifying some of that, but it will be held in-person and in downtown Springfield,” she said.

Blues to Green is working to ensure the event is enjoyable for those attending, Neville said.

“I think there is a real hunger for live music. I’m sure people feel some trepidation about large gatherings, but there is also a real desire to be among other people again,” she said.

Dan Rivera, president and CEO of MassDevelopment, said the goal of hosting these events downtown is to encourage visitors to also shop at businesses owned by Black, indigenous and other communities of colors.

“MassDevelopment is focused on assisting hard-hit neighborhoods as they recover from the economic and social impacts of COVID-19. Our grants will help make it easier for people to come together again for arts and cultural celebrations that benefit both the local economy and the larger community,” he said.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, MassDevelopment has awarded $224,965 in funding for 21 projects across Massachusetts through the special fund.

Since December 2020 there has been $390,000 in funding available for nonprofits and other community groups to apply for in grants ranging from $250 to $7,500 for events and projects that focus on inclusivity and economic development for communities affected by the pandemic.

The agency is also offering implementation grants of up to $50,000 to execute certain projects and events like the festival. For implementation grants, up to $10,000 per project may be awarded as an unmatched grant; awards greater than $10,000 must be matched with crowdfunding donations.

Applications for that funding will be accepted until June 30 and are available at massdevelopment.com/commonwealthplaces.