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Blues Foundation Considers Louisiana Move

MEMPHIS, TN (AP) — Officials with the Memphis-based Blues Foundation say they'll study a possible move to Louisiana.

Officials with the Louisiana Economic Development group met Saturday with the foundation's board in Lula, Miss., to explore a possible move to Baton Rouge or New Orleans.

The 22-year-old nonprofit foundation, which produces the annual W.C. Handy Blues Awards show, has called Memphis home since its creation in 1980.

Governed by a 30-member board, the foundation is the umbrella organization for more than 100 affiliated groups with members in 27 countries.

It's operating with a $90,000 deficit.

"Obviously, with the financial challenges facing the Blues Foundation, we can't rule anything out," said foundation board President Kevin Kane. "We've got to do what's best for the overall health of the organization, and if that's to move to Louisiana, the board may have to consider that."

Members of the Memphis music community said Sunday the loss of the foundation would be a blow to the city, famed for its Beale Street, known as "the birthplace of the blues."

"We're fools if we let it get away," said Jon Hornyak, executive director of the Memphis chapter of the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences. "I think it'd be significant. We're trying to build the industry here. The Handy Awards are a big deal. We don't need to lose that."

Kane said Louisiana officials offered two years' free rent in Baton Rouge, but few other financial details were discussed.