An energy development company said Saturday it would sponsor the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival through at least 2010, a decision organizers said would guard against scaling back the popular event in a city slowly recovering from Hurricane Katrina.
Terms of the deal with Shell Exploration & Production Co. were not released, though Jazz Fest producer Quint Davis said it is the first time the event _ traditionally driven by ticket sales _ will have a long-term corporate sponsor.
"It changes a lot of things," Davis told a news conference. "We're able to make long-term plans for the festival now."
Shell was a major sponsor of last year's Jazz Fest, the first since Hurricane Katrina, and Davis likened Shell's support for Jazz Fest then to putting a floundering goldfish back into a fishbowl. Before the storm, it cost about $10 million (euro7.33 million) to put on a festival of this size _ one spanning two, three-day weekends _ and organizers were concerned after Katrina about the diminished city population, how many people would come from out of town and just how any future Jazz Fests would look.
Estimates of the city's population still put it far below the 455,000 people here before Katrina hit in August 2005, and New Orleans' recovery has been sluggish, with parts of some neighborhoods still devastated. Still, there have been bright spots; when it comes to tourism, a major industry in this city, officials have pointed to Mardi Gras, among other things like meeting and convention traffic, as post-Katrina successes.
Jazz Fest has not released crowd estimates.
Frank Glaviano, a vice president of production for Shell, said the company wanted to help the city.
"We wanted to give a gift to the people of New Orleans after all that they had gone through," he said.
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