In September of 2016, The Selby Ave JazzFest became a 501c3 nonprofit, a major step in our organization’s development and a long way from Mychael’s vision when presenting the inaugural 2002 Fest. We would like to thank The St. Paul Foundation, Mardag Foundation and F. R. Bigelow Foundation for their generous support during our first year of operation.
I recall one of our earlier Fests when I was handing out balloons and gave one to this little boy. He looks at me with big sad eyes and says, “I don’t have any money.” That hit me hard; to the point where I was going to make sure that absolutely nothing stood in the way of our guests experiencing a quality day of music…or taking a balloon home.
The mission of The Selby Ave JazzFest is to:
- Over the past seven live Fests, nearly two of three attendees came from Zip Codes where annual household entertainment expenditureswere at least 20% less than the Twin Cities Seven County Metropolitan Area average.
Use the power of arts-based community development as a platform for individuals from all walks of life to be of one community via a shared arts experience
Over its 20+ year history, The Fest has gained a strong reputation for attracting a genuinely diverse audience.
- The organizers of the Selby Avenue JazzFest, including founder Mychael Wright, should be heavily praised for their caring attention to nuance, which resulted in the most comfortable, yet tantalizing, JazzFest presentation that the Twin Cities has had in a long while. The result was a strong point of pride that the neighbors of St. Paul can profess is a perfect depiction of why the city is so loved.
- From all walks of life, some in business, some in the arts, some in education…folk get to congregate, network, and just in general be about a community. As much as it is about the music, this is also about mingling with friends and making new ones.–TC Daily Planet
- The festival attracts an eclectic crowed from the folks who live around Selby and Milton in St. Paul all the way to the upper-crust denizens of Summit Avenue. It’s got just the right free-spirited vibe to keep things loose.–Mpls-St. Paul Magazine
To utilize the arts as a means to reposition Selby Avenue as a safe, cultural and hip destination
Through investment from its strong small business owners and residents, Selby Avenue is well on its way to turning the corner of its checkered past. In 2019, two new developments totaling $13.2M (Selby at Victoria and Selby at Milton) were completed. Both feature a mix of affordable senior living spaces (which will keep community elders in their neighborhood) and retail storefronts.
As regional perceptions of Selby have changed, so has the make-up of Fest audiences. As late as 2008, 20% of JazzFest attendees came from outside the neighborhood’s 55104/102 Zip Codes. Since 2015, over 60% do.