The ColaJazz Foundation is dedicated to grow, support and promote jazz in the Midlands through events, education, recordings, resources and advocacy in order to create a thriving culturally rich community.
We aim to be the driving beat in jazz education, performance and outreach providing opportunities for all from the musician to the student to the audience. We strive to serve our community, create cultural enrichment and make our capital city a premiere jazz destination in the southeast.
DESIGN & STRUCTURE.
The ColaJazz Foundation (ColaJazz) is a community-minded 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization. It produces an annual season including the ColaJazz Summer Camp, ColaJazz Fest, Great Day in Columbia, Live in the Lobby (Koger Center for the Arts), monthly Dinner & Jazz concerts, Jazz Appreciation Month ColaJazz Crawl and International Jazz Day concert, Virtual Concerts, workshops, after-school curriculum, Jazz for Young People concerts and more bringing people from across the state and beyond to enjoy our capital city.
ColaJazz provides access to world class musicians, supports our own, invests in our future and does everything we can to ensure jazz has a home here in Columbia, SC. The ColaJazz community is comprised of musicians, educators, patrons, students, and anyone who desires to support jazz and develop our capital city’s cultural heritage.
ColaJazz remains committed to jazz which reveals the best of American culture. Jazz music from the beginning has taught us to persevere with intelligence, style and grace, be creative, work with others, celebrate differences, respect tradition while breaking new ground, be your best self while advancing the group, and jazz brings people together.
Since 2014, ColaJazz has worked tirelessly to establish Columbia, SC as a premier jazz destination. Founder and Executive Director Mark Rapp had a desire to highlight the accomplished jazz artists and educators active in and around Columbia, SC. Additionally, Mark wanted to give back to the fans, supporters, and jazz venues. Mark’s initial foray in promoting the City of Columbia was recording the ColaJazz Vol 1 CD featuring our city’s top jazz talent and a full-length CD by our late SC Jazz Ambassador Skipp Pearson both of which were featured nationally in AAA Magazine.
In 2018, ColaJazz earned a coveted fiscal sponsorship with one of Columbia’s longest standing arts nonprofits the Columbia Music Festival Association. After 5 years of working with the community, creating proofs of concepts, and establishing an annual season of events, it was time to become a designated 501(c)(3) nonprofit jazz organization.
ColaJazz has established successful and vibrant annual jazz programming including a summer jazz camp, jazz festival, countless performances, jam sessions, artist features, community highlights, and often brings international jazz stars including NEA Jazz Masters and GRAMMY-winners to Columbia, SC.
Headed by Founder and Executive Director Mark Rapp, our leadership is committed to inspiring and growing audiences for jazz through performances, education, and other events.
Mark Rapp, South Carolina’s Jazz Ambassador and 2020 Experience Columbia Ambassador, grew up in Florence, South Carolina. Mark earned a Bachelors in Music Performance from Winthrop University and a Masters in Jazz from the Univeristy of New Orleans. Mark has a storied career in jazz from New Orleans, New York to Europe and around many parts of the world. From sold out shows at Dizzy’s Club at Jazz at Lincoln Center to the famed Blue Note jazz club in Greenwich Village, he’s performed solo gigs in Switzerland, Croatia, France, to Boston, Washington, San Francisco and New Orleans. He’s taken the stage with Branford Marsalis, Wess “Warmdaddy” Anderson, Delfeayo Marsalis to fellow South Carolinians Hootie and the Blowfish, Darius Rucker, and Edwin McCain.
Mark brought his hard-earned, real-life experience and expertise back home to South Carolina. Fueled with enthusiasm of the talent here, he worked to unite jazz initiatives throughout the state and founded ColaJazz. He established this organization with the mission to elevate jazz in our community while offering engaging outlets to experience this unique form of musical expression to the public. Mark has a steadfast passion to make our capital city a thriving, culturally rich destination it can and ought to be.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS.
The ColaJazz Foundation Board of Directors are a distinguished group of leaders from all facets of society who are committed to our mission of expanding jazz’s reach in and around Columbia, SC.
CHAIRWOMAN: Shelley Magee
VICE-CHAIRWOMAN: Shari Hutchinson
SECRETARY: Susan Levi Wallach
TREASURER: Mark Rouse
BOARD OF DIRECTORS:
Clifford J. Emery, Jr.
STATEMENT ON CULTURAL EQUITY.
To support a full creative life for all, the ColaJazz Foundation commits to championing policies and practices of cultural equity that empower a just, inclusive, equitable nation.
Cultural equity embodies the values, policies, and practices that ensure that all people—including but not limited to those who have been historically underrepresented based on race/ethnicity, age, disability, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, socioeconomic status, geography, citizenship status, or religion—are represented in the development of arts policy; the support of artists; the nurturing of accessible, thriving venues for expression; and the fair distribution of programmatic, financial, and informational resources.
In the United States, there are systems of power that grant privilege and access unequally such that inequity and injustice result, and that must be continuously addressed and changed. Cultural equity is critical to the long-term viability of the arts sector. We must all hold ourselves accountable, because acknowledging and challenging our inequities and working in partnership is how we will make change happen. Everyone deserves equal access to a full, vibrant creative life, which is essential to a healthy and democratic society. The prominent presence of artists challenges inequities and encourages alternatives.
To provide informed, authentic leadership for cultural equity, we strive to… Pursue cultural consciousness throughout our organization through substantive learning and formal, transparent policies. Acknowledge and dismantle any inequities within our policies, systems, programs, and services, and report organization progress. Commit time and resources to expand more diverse leadership within our board, staff, and advisory bodies.
To pursue needed systemic change related to equity, we strive to… Encourage substantive learning to build cultural consciousness and to proliferate pro-equity policies and practices by all of our constituencies and audiences. Improve the cultural leadership pipeline by creating and supporting programs and policies that foster leadership that reflects the full breadth of American society. Advocate for public and private-sector policy that promotes cultural equity.
WHAT WE DO.
Jazz is uplifting, instills hope, fuels healing and creates a lasting experience. From a parent seeing their child light up finding focus through the music, to a cancer patient forgetting about the pain for moment, to a troubled youth experiencing the possibilities of healthier communication and more, ColaJazz Outreach makes a difference. We strive to enrich and inspire the Midlands community by sharing jazz anywhere it is needed.
ColaJazz is the driving beat and resource for the best in jazz education. Having partnered with Jazz at Lincoln Center presenting and tailoring their after-school content to presenting Jazz for Young People concerts to 2,000 3rd graders to our annual summer jazz camp, ColaJazz Education is a powerful, engaging and exciting resource of curriculum, clinics, master classes and mentorship. ColaJazz Education brings the important history and value of jazz to life, supports local musicians, and offers programs to all ages of any background.
ColaJazz brings the world of jazz to life! ColaJazz has established an annual season presenting world-class jazz enriching our community with an annual Jazz Fest, quarterly “Live in the Lobby” programs with the Koger Center for the Arts, monthly “Dinner & Jazz” shows, LIVEstream concerts, special popup presentations and more. We aim to support our local artists and make our capital city a thriving center for jazz in SC.