Madison Heights Arts Board plans socially distanced music festival

By: Andy Kozlowski | Madison - Park News | Published August 7, 2020

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MADISON HEIGHTS — The need for social distancing to avoid spreading the coronavirus has led to the cancellation or downsizing of many public events.

But the Madison Heights Arts Board believes it has hit upon an idea that would make for a safe and fun community celebration, one the board is already planning for early October.

A music festival at Civic Center Park, behind Madison Heights City Hall, on 13 Mile Road, just west of John R Road, is in the works for Oct. 3. The event is set to take place between 4 and 7 p.m.

The call for musicians is kicking off now, with video applications due on or before Aug. 25, the board selecting performers during its meeting Aug. 26 at 7 p.m., and announcements and advertising to start Aug. 31.

Musicians who wish to apply should email mhartsboard@gmail.com and include a link to a video of them performing. YouTube links are advised. The video must be between two and five minutes long. Business sponsors are also sought and can contact event organizers at the same email address.  

Madison Heights City Councilman Mark Bliss explained the concept behind the festival.

“This program is an outdoor strolling festival of street performers. Musicians will be spread across the trail at Civic Center Park, and at each musician station we’ll have labeled distance suggestions for the audience stopping to hear that musician play,” Bliss said. “In the case of restrictions getting tighter, Plan B is to hold the event via (the free videoconferencing app) Zoom.”

The Arts Board is looking for about 20 musicians to line the trail, and all genres are welcome.

“The fun of this event is that people can navigate to the music they enjoy while being exposed to new styles of music along the way,” Bliss said. “We want a diverse array of musicians so there’s something for everyone. From acoustic singers to saxophone players — there can even be singers with a background track. The only requirement is that they have their own instruments and their own equipment.”

Each artist will receive a small stipend for participating. The public will also be encouraged to tip the musicians if they wish.

“The Arts Board is excited to have our first music-related event since our karaoke fundraisers, and the first event since the pandemic,” said Amber Platzke, the newly appointed Arts Board chair and prior vice-chair, in an email. “We’re very fortunate to have members passionate about bringing music to our city, and through a bit of creativity, the project committee was able to craft a program that works with social distancing. This will allow the community and its musicians to come together and enjoy a few hours of live music.”

Bliss said that the festival has been a long time coming.

“All the way back to the initial council meeting where I proposed the Arts Board, I mentioned the importance of music concerts like this, and my co-chair for this event, Vita Palazzolo, said the same that night under public comments. Since then, both of us, as well as many other members of the board, have been trying to find a way to do a concert, and had been getting close before the pandemic made us change gears again,” Bliss said. “Thankfully, we were able to figure out a concept that will still work with social distancing, so that we can bring music to our city in a safe way.

“Unlike past concerts (in the city), this event is unique in that it won’t be centered around a single stage where an individual artist performs, but will instead have performances happening throughout the park. That changes the experience and allows each person to enjoy the event in their own way. They can walk the trail multiple times to enjoy a variety of musicians, or simply watch their favorites perform,” he said. “The Arts Board is there to fill the need for art in our community, and after months of cancelled concerts, there’s a real demand for a safe way to experience live music. … I’m looking forward to seeing our residents experience this unique concert event.”

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