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June 19, 2013

Officials, sponsors announce tech upgrades to Arts, Beats & Eats

Ford extends title sponsorship through 2015

By Robert Guttersohn
C & G Staff Writer

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Officials, sponsors announce tech upgrades to Arts, Beats & Eats
Jonathan Witz, the director of Arts, Beats & Eats, speaks during a June 11 press conference for the upcoming 2013 festival that will take place during Labor Day weekend.

ROYAL OAK — A smartphone application designed specifically for this year’s Arts, Beats & Eats festival was one of many technological changes announced at a June 11 press conference outside the Royal Oak Library.

Additionally, Mike O’Brien, the regional sales manager for Ford and Lincoln, announced that Ford is extending its title sponsorship of the festival for another two years.

“We believe this is among the premiere festivals that happen in southeast Michigan, which, of course, is where we are headquartered,” O’Brien said. “It’s where many of us live and work, and it’s where our families grow up. And we want to make sure we have a big presence in this market.”

The smartphone app, which was designed by Ford, will update subscribers on band start times and where different food and art venues will be located.

The application will also send personalized push notifications to let people know when their favorite bands will be starting, O’Brien said.

Guests, he said, will also be able to enter contests for special VIP tickets and other prizes throughout the weekend using the phone app.

“It’s going to be a great new mobile app that’s going to be available for the first time this year,” O’Brien said.

It will be available to download in August for Android and iPhone devices, he said.

Ford also announced the beginning of the Arts, Beats & Eats poster contest, which is open to local artists and designers. Those wishing to enter the contest can do so at the Arts, Beats & Eats website, www.artsbeatseats.com.

Officials announced other technological advancements to the festivals, including upgrades to security technology.

Also, FirstMerit Bank Michigan announced $20,000 grants will be awarded to five nonprofit organizations who best use Web-based, crowd-sourcing applications to raise additional funds. Information on the incentive is available on the festival website.

David Lochner, the president of FirstMerit Michigan, said the bank projects the incentive will increase giving by $500,000 to charities partnering with the festival in 2013.

“Now that’s community impact,” Lochner said.

So far, Arts, Beats & Eats has raised $4 million for charities in its 16-year history, officials said.

Local and county politicians attended the press conference.

Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson said he couldn’t believe this fall’s festival would already be in its 16th year this Labor Day weekend.

“We wanted to put this on without tax dollars,” Patterson said, just after thanking the corporate sponsors of the event. “That’s the first thing we agreed upon 16 years ago. We weren’t going to ask the taxpayers to underwrite it.”

He thanked Royal Oak Mayor Jim Ellison, who was seated at the front, and the City Commission for playing host to the festival.

“It was probably the best move we ever made,” Patterson said.

The commission recently approved a contract extension with Arts, Beats & Eats that would make the city the host of the festival until 2017.

The Downtown Development Authority must still approve the contract and is expected to vote on it June 19.

Ellison also announced that this year’s Arts du Jour, the charity event for Arts, Beats & Eats, will be outside the Royal Oak Public Library from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Aug. 22. It will feature more than 50 restaurants, a preview of the Juried Fine Art Show and musical performances.

“Ford Arts, Beats & Eats is one of the highlights of the year in Royal Oak,” Ellison said. “Having the hundreds of thousands of guests from all over the region visit our streets and get a firsthand experience of the great retail stores and entertainment that Royal Oak has to offer provides an economic boost that is felt year-round.”

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Robert Guttersohn at rguttersohn@candgnews.com or at (586)218-5006.