End of an era- Highland Jazz leaves Pine Manor

jazz logo After seven years at the Founders Room in Pine Manor College it was clear that I would have to find another venue. The reasons for leaving revolved around money. When we started there the college had charged us a rental fee of $125 for the room which had a capacity of 125 people. Over time the price rose to $150, still quite reasonable. Then in the spring of 1996 I was informed that the cost would increase another $100. Moreover we would no longer be allowed to bring in our own refreshments for sale. We would have to purchase soda from Pine Manor’s concession and then sell it, thereby practically eliminating any profit from the sale. Most harmful to our welfare was the impending loss of the Saturday night slot, the time when we were most likely to sell out the 125 seats. We were offered Friday or Sunday. I had tried a Sunday in the past but the attendance was very low. Other than the Friday concert we did last year with Dave McKenna Friday night had also not been successful for us.

The Newton Tab published an article on August 13, 1996 and interviewed David Ellis, vice president for business and finance at Pine Manor. He said the rent and room availability changes were based entirely on a business decision.

“We feel very strongly about being good neighbors here, but you have to realize we’re not in the business of subsidizing nonprofits. We’ve been losing money for a long time on outside programs.”

After consulting with the board I made the hard decision to leave. The Founders Room was an elegant place, a beautiful venue for jazz. I was worried about how the audience would react to a change of venue. From past experience I knew we would lose a portion of our audience since some people just don’t like change, no matter what the reason. Nevertheless I felt I really had no choice.

The final concert at Pine Manor took place on November 23 and featured the Gray Sargent Trio with Gray on guitar, Marshall Wood on bass and Jim Gwin on drums. It seemed appropriate to end our run at Pine Manor with Gray’s Trio, since his was the second band I hired when Highland Jazz began thirteen years before in 1983.

Alimansky sketching

Nancy Alimansky skeching
photograph by Ruth Williams

It was a beautiful concert. I sat in front on the stairs, sketched the musicians and relaxed in the venue for one last time, surrounded by beautiful tapestries on the walls and oriental carpets on the floor.

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