U of A Music Researchers Win $45,000 National Endowment for the Arts Grant

Music researchers and faculty members Jake Hertzog and Justin R. Hunter will use a $45,000 NEA grant to examine the importance of collegiate jazz programs to jazz ecosystems in three major cities.
Photo by University of Arkansas

Music researchers and faculty members Jake Hertzog and Justin R. Hunter will use a $45,000 NEA grant to examine the importance of collegiate jazz programs to jazz ecosystems in three major cities.

The U of A has been awarded a $45,000 research grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. The grant will support researchers Jake Hertzog and Justin R. Hunter in the Department of Music as they examine the importance of collegiate jazz programs to the jazz ecosystems in three U.S. cities — Kansas City, Missouri; Portland, Oregon; and Atlanta, Georgia.

Each of these cities represents areas that have varied and expansive jazz scenes and music ecosystems beyond collegiate jazz programs that act as sources, anchors and hubs.

“We are thrilled to receive support from the NEA on this project — right now is a pivotal time for higher education, the music industry and the evolving and important work on musical and cultural placemaking,” Hertzog said. 

“We are looking forward to contributing to these many academic intersections and sharing the results of this study with the many communities it involves,” he added.

Through their studies of these cities, Hunter said the duo posits that they will discover just how significant collegiate jazz programs are to music ecosystems in a variety of organizational and community roles. 

“While the U.S. government recognizes the importance of jazz, there is no national strategy to support this critical American art form,” Hunter said. 

“This research also holds significance for communities, institutions and policymakers as it seeks to contribute to our understanding of jazz scenes and serve the arts community while providing avenues for future research in creative ecologies,” he added. 

Hertzog and Hunter’s project is one of only 18 NEA Research Grants in the Arts being given out in early 2024, which together represent more than $1 million in funding to support a broad range of research studies that investigate the value and/or impact of the arts — either as individual components of the U.S. arts ecosystem or as they interact with each other and/or with other domains of American life.

“The National Endowment for the Arts is proud to support this project from the University of Arkansas as part of our agency’s commitment to catalyze research and improve the quality of evidence about the roles of the arts and their contributions to our society,” said Sunil Iyengar, NEA director of research and analysis.


Jake Hertzog is a guitarist, educator and researcher. He is currently an assistant professor and jazz area coordinator at the U of A. His discography includes nine albums covering jazz, rock and contemporary classical. Hertzog has authored two books and published over 30 articles on jazz. Hertzog’s published work on higher music education has appeared in the journals Artivate and Jazz Education in Research and Practice.

He holds music degrees from the Berklee College of Music and The Manhattan School of Music as well as a Ph.D. in higher education from the U of A. Hertzog recently presented at the Popular Music Educators Conference, The Society for Arts Entrepreneurship Education and the Jazz Education Network Conference. Hertzog is extensively involved in creative economy service on the Fayetteville Arts Council and the Northwest Arkansas Film Commission. He has advised on the creative economy and higher education at the state level in Arkansas.

Justin R. Hunter is an ethnomusicologist and educator. He is an instructor of musicology at the U of A. He has published articles, book and media reviews, and served as reviewer for many international journals within the field of ethnomusicology. Hunter holds music degrees from the U of A and completed his Ph.D. in ethnomusicology at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. 

Hunter’s research areas include Indigenous studies, East Asian studies and Ozark music studies, focusing on grassroots efforts in community building through performing arts. He has presented this research extensively at the Society for Ethnomusicology and conferences in Europe and Asia. Hunter served on the Fayetteville Arts Council for seven years and is actively engaged in building networks in the Northwest Arkansas community to connect students with professional development programs.

For more information on other projects included in the NEA’s grant announcement, visit arts.gov/news

Additionally, visit arts.gov/impact/research to explore more of the NEA’s work in research and analysis, including the agency’s five-year research agenda; in-depth reports and analyses of research topics in the arts; collections of statistics, graphics and summary results from data-mining about the arts and more. 

About the Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences: The Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences is the largest and most academically diverse unit on campus with three schools, 16 departments and 43 academic programs and research centers. The college provides the majority of the core curriculum for all University of Arkansas students. 

About the University of Arkansas: As Arkansas' flagship institution, the U of A provides an internationally competitive education in more than 200 academic programs. Founded in 1871, the U of A contributes more than $2.2 billion to Arkansas’ economy through the teaching of new knowledge and skills, entrepreneurship and job development, discovery through research and creative activity while also providing training for professional disciplines. The Carnegie Foundation classifies the U of A among the few U.S. colleges and universities with the highest level of research activity. U.S. News & World Report ranks the U of A among the top public universities in the nation. See how the U of A works to build a better world at Arkansas Research and Economic Development News.


Jake Hertzog, assistant professor of guitar
Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences
479-575-4701, jhertzog@uark.edu

Justin R. Hunter, instructor of ethnomusicology
Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences
479-575-4908, jrhunte@uark.edu


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