Shell will continue to be the presenting sponsor of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival through 2019. The five-year extension, announced Friday afternoon at the Fair Grounds, will include the festival’s 50th anniversary and the 300th anniversary of New Orleans.
John Hollowell, Shell’s executive vice president for deepwater in the Americas, made the announcement with festival officials and Mayor Mitch Landrieu.
“Five more years,” said Quint Davis, Jazz Fest’s producer-director, “not just the way we are, but it gives us the opportunity to be the best that we can be.”
Shell’s presenting sponsorship of Jazz Fest began in 2006, the first festival after Hurricane Katrina. It has continued annually since then. The five-year extension will bring the company’s sponsorship to a total of 14 years.
Landrieu said not staging Jazz Fest in 2006 was not an option. At the time, Landrieu — then lieutenant governor — was embarking on a campaign for mayor, though he ended up losing to incumbent Ray Nagin. Landrieu and Davis sought a major sponsor to make the 2006 festival possible.
Davis, citing the importance of Shell’s sponsorship in 2006, said he didn’t want to dredge up Katrina again, but “the festival, the city of New Orleans — all the same. We were all in the same flood … we were all goldfish on the kitchen floor, trying to get back in the bowl.”
Davis also acknowledged AEG Live, whose subsidiary, AEG Louisiana Productions, co-produces Jazz Fest. Also speaking Friday, Todd Goldstein, AEG’s chief revenue officer, cited Jazz Fest as one of the world’s great musical events.
Jazz Fest, which runs through Sunday, has an annual $300 million impact on New Orleans, Davis said.