Charity Spotlight: Where Jazz Lovers Gather
Organization: The Nash
Managing director — Steve Maun
Executive director — Joel Goldenthal
The Nash is part of Jazz in Arizona, Inc., a nonprofit founded in 1977 to celebrate and build the Valley’s jazz community. Attorney Herb Ely and jazz pianist Joel Goldenthal dreamed of creating a jazz performance venue and education center. After conducting focus groups with student musicians and seasoned instructors, they came up with the concept for The Nash, including naming it after Lewis Nash, a Phoenix native and iconic jazz drummer. When The Nash opened in downtown Phoenix in 2012, the first note played in the venue was played by trumpet great Wynton Marsalis.
The Nash celebrates the rich tradition and ongoing innovation of jazz. It is known for its commitment to introducing students to jazz and providing top-quality jazz education from professional musicians to students interested in playing America’s original art form. The Nash also offers almost 300 quality live performances a year with local musicians as well as national and international touring jazz artists.
Annual Budget: $1.35 million
Most Surprising Thing About the Organization:
“Its history,” said managing director Steve Maun. Jazz in Arizona, Inc. has existed for nearly 45 years and has always worked to build a vibrant jazz community in Phoenix and beyond. “I think the fact that we present nearly 300 shows a year at The Nash is also surprising. That is a lot of shows for such a small staff,” Maun said.
As a result of The Nash’s participation in the ATLAS program offered by Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust, The Nash has been able to hire its first full-time director of education and a director of fund development and communications. “These two recent hires greatly enhance The Nash’s capacity and sustainability as a successful nonprofit,” Maun said. “Our director of education, Dr. Clark Gibson, organized and held our first Nash Jazz Summer Camp this past June with 83 students participating in the weeklong camp.” The camp culminated with a Friday night faculty concert and 11 student ensemble shows on Saturday at The Nash.
The pandemic forced The Nash to close for approximately 16 months, a period that was challenging financially and programmatically. To maintain a connection with students, patrons and donors, The Nash offered virtual shows and education opportunities and held a series of outdoor performances at Venue 122.
“The challenge continued when we reopened in July 2021 because, after such a long closure, it was not as simple as turning on the lights and opening the door,” Maun said. “We made several modifications to our operations and, in some ways, learned how to operate all over again. We had to reengage with our constituents and bring them back to The Nash.”
The team at The Nash is looking forward to the continued growth of its education and outreach programs. In the past year, they added three new ensembles and held the first Nash Jazz Summer Camp. “We served four times more students than in the past,” Maun said. “I believe we will continue to expand participation based on our current momentum.”
To learn more, visit thenash.org.