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Struggling Okla. jazz hall faces $12K legal bill

Published on NewsOK Modified: December 21, 2012 at 4:47 pm •  Published: December 21, 2012

This spring, the organization's nearly $4,000 check to cover a half-year's insurance on the building bounced.

Its past tax documents are littered with red ink. Between Oct. 1, 2009 and Sept. 30, 2010, the organization reported revenue of $354,429 and expenses of $449,714 — a deficit topping $95,000. The next fiscal year, the center made around $31,000.

Part of the problem for the hall's executives is letting people know that the museum, which has free admission, exists and why Oklahoma needs it.

Dozens of musicians have been inducted, even if they don't hail from Oklahoma. They include greats such as Dizzy Gillespie and Ella Fitzgerald, as well as Okie-born guitarist Tommy Crook.

Jazz in Oklahoma evolved as African-Americans migrated from the South to the Midwest. Many pioneers of Kansas City swing had roots in Oklahoma City and Tulsa. The legendary Count Basie cut his teeth in the state and returned to its clubs to recruit new talent.

North Tulsa's Greenwood District, which historians call Black Wall Street because of its thriving shops, newspapers and nightclubs, was a hotbed for up-and-coming acts.

With its major debts settled, McIntosh said the jazz hall is planning to grow its donor base and increase membership in the museum from 400 to more than 700 members next year.

"Every day gets better," he said.