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May 13, 2015

New Orleans Jazz Group to Return Library Foundation Gifts

The New Orleans Jazz Orchestra has agreed to give back hundreds of thousands of dollars in controversial contributions from a foundation that raises money for the city's public libraries, WWL-TV reports.

A WWL investigation found that the orchestra received at least $863,000 from the New Orleans Public Library Foundation while two leaders of the nonprofit music entity served on the foundation's board. The report ignited criticism over the use of library donations to help fund the orchestra's newly opened center-city venue, the New Orleans Jazz Market, and Mayor Mitch Landrieu called on the music group to return the money.

Irvin Mayfield and Ronald Markham, respectively the jazz orchestra's artistic director and president, have left the library foundation's board. Ron Forman, chairman of the orchestra's board, said Tuesday that it will raise private funds to reimburse the foundation. In a statement, the orchestra defended the use of library funds for its new venue but said it would return the gifts to "remedy any misperceptions."