Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson poses with a group of people representing organizations and charities  that received money from this year’s Ford Arts, Beats & Eats.

Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson poses with a group of people representing organizations and charities that received money from this year’s Ford Arts, Beats & Eats.

Photo by Mike Koury


Arts, Beats & Eats surpasses $5 million in total donations

Donates more than $275,000 this year

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published October 16, 2017

ROYAL OAK — Coming off the 20th annual Ford Arts, Beats & Eats festival, the event announced at a press conference last week its donation of more than $275,000 to local charities.

The event raised $275,738 for charity during the four-day event Sept. 1-4 in downtown Royal Oak. The money also helped Arts, Beats & Eats surpass $5 million in total donations across the 20-year history of the festival.

Crossing the $5 million mark was something event co-founder and organizer Jon Witz was very excited about, calling it an “amazing moment.”

“It was a real sense of achievement, and it’s symbolic of so many partnerships and collaborations and our ability from the festival side to look for areas of goodwill,” he said. “We challenge ourselves all the time to try and figure out how we can take the power of the festival and turn that into positive outcomes.”

The event was able to donate the money raised to 58 local charities and organizations during a press conference at Flagstar Bank’s corporate headquarters in Troy Oct. 11.

From the gate proceeds, 16 organizations shared $106,101; 29 charitable and cultural groups shared $68,500 raised from beverage sales; four organizations shared $12,262.50 from parking donations; and nine shared an additional $24,350. There were other donations as well, including $36,775 to the American Red Cross for hurricane relief. 

One of those organizations was the Boys & Girls Clubs of Oakland and Macomb Counties, which received $13,200 from the gate proceeds. The club brought 86 volunteers to help run the gate and informational booths during one of the days of the festival.

Liza Billotti, senior vice president of development, said the $13,200 is crucial for them because they run solely off fundraising, donations and grants. 

“We do not receive any federal funding and, like I said, we charge $50 for the year,” she said. “It’s very crucial for us to receive money through partnerships like Arts, Beats & Eats, who we’ve been partnering with for over eight years now.”

The money, Billotti said, will go toward the programs the organization runs, one of which is the “academic success” program, where kids can come in and are able to work in a learning center and with staff who help them with their homework

“We have a one-on-one tutoring program, where the kids come and they’re able to receive a tutor every week,” she said. “And also, with our teens, we take them on multiple college trips throughout the year.”

Witz now will be focusing on getting ready for next year’s event. In terms of trying to top what the event did in previous years, he said that along with the music and partnerships, innovation is the key.

“We’ll be out trying to, right now, work on bands, work on corporate sponsors and then trying to come up with ideas that are new and exciting,” he said.