Local charities benefit from Ford Arts, Beats & Eats

By: Victoria Mitchell | Royal Oak Review | Published October 13, 2014

 Event Producer Jonathan Witz addresses members of the media and local charitable organizations during the Oct. 9 Arts, Beats & Eats 2014 wrap-up event at Starr Jaycee Park in Royal Oak.

Event Producer Jonathan Witz addresses members of the media and local charitable organizations during the Oct. 9 Arts, Beats & Eats 2014 wrap-up event at Starr Jaycee Park in Royal Oak.

Photo by Adam Sparkes

Advertisement
Advertisement

ROYAL OAK — Local dignitaries and philanthropists gathered Oct. 9 at Starr Jaycee Park to share in more than $360,000 raised during the 17th annual Ford Arts, Beats & Eats.

About 75 attendees gathered at the 13 Mile Road park, east of Crooks, during a brisk morning as Event Producer Jonathan Witz presented to 75 nonprofit and community organizations a total of $360,820 raised during the Labor Day weekend event. 

“Today reflects what this event is about, which is collaboration and community,” Witz said.  “It is great times and great outcomes.”

The event location was chosen to showcase the new play structure at Starr Jaycee Park, which was financed through city-generated parking revenue from the 2013 Ford Arts, Beats & Eats.

Royal Oak officials established a fund so that all parking revenue generated from the event would go to the recreation department to help subsidize city playground structures.

“It’s been very difficult in the past for the city to find the money to improve our parks, and being able to use the Arts, Beats & Eats parking revenue has been a godsend for us,” Mayor Jim Ellison said.

More than 360,000 people attended the festival this year. Witz said this was the fourth-highest attendance and the second-highest donation total in the event’s history.

In the 17 years the festival has taken place, it has raised $4.5 million for charities. Royal Oak became the event site five years ago.

Organizations raise money through various festival activities, including working at entry gates, selling beverages, manning parking lots and participating in ancillary events like the FirstMerit Community Challenge and the Arts du Jour charity preview event.

Royal Oak-based nonprofits received $106,104 from the total dollars handed out by the Ford Arts, Beats & Eats Foundation. For the fifth consecutive year, Royal Oak organizations received in excess of $100,000.

“When I first met with John five or six years ago about bringing this event to Royal Oak, one of the things that I insisted on is that our Royal Oak-based charities benefit from it,” Ellison said.  “And to this day, he’s been true to that promise that he made to me.”

Some of the local recipients include the Royal Oak Lions Club, Women’s Club, Jaycees, high school football and dance teams, the Royal Oak Historical Society and a $2,000 donation to the Commission for the Arts. Many local churches also benefited monetarily from the event.

“It has been a really great relationship between the festival and the City of Royal Oak,” Witz said.

The remaining approximately $254,000 went to regional organizations including the Autism Alliance of Michigan, The Rainbow Connection, The Children’s Center of Michigan, the Coalition on Temporary Shelter and the Boys & Girls Clubs of South Oakland County.

Advertisement
Advertisement