Artist and graphic designer Tim Gralewski, right, and his daughter, Olivia Gralewski, 11, stand with the Rochester Hills-based artist’s artwork in downtown Royal Oak Aug. 12.

Artist and graphic designer Tim Gralewski, right, and his daughter, Olivia Gralewski, 11, stand with the Rochester Hills-based artist’s artwork in downtown Royal Oak Aug. 12.

File photo by Sarah Wojcik

The Beats Go On raises over $400,000 for local musicians

By: Sarah Wojcik | Royal Oak Review | Published January 12, 2021


ROYAL OAK — After COVID-19 decimated the incomes of the gig-based music community, Arts, Beats & Eats formed a fundraising initiative called The Beats Go On that benefited nearly 450 local musicians.

The total amount raised was $431,057.82 of the $500,000 goal, including a $215,528.91 donation from the Oakland County CARES Act, the organizers of the Labor Day festival announced Dec. 10.

Other contributions included $45,983.80 in direct donations, $16,316.60 from drive-in concerts, $37,059 from a crowdfunding page and $116,169.51 from virtual performances, according to a press release.

“We applaud the commitment of the Arts, Beats & Eats team and The Beats Go On campaign to help our community recover,” Oakland County Executive David Coulter said in a prepared statement. “We are pleased to contribute these matching funds to positively impact the livelihood of local musicians, who have been struggling during this difficult time.”

While Arts, Beats & Eats was canceled due to social distancing guidelines and health threats, organizers worked through smaller events with heightened health measures to support charitable fundraising for musicians, artists, food truck operators and fitness instructors who have all been hit hard by the pandemic.

“We certainly hope this is a one-year situation. We look to get back as close to normal as possible in 2021,” festival producer Jon Witz said in a prior interview. “We’re hoping that all the good work going into treatment and vaccine research comes through for everybody, not just for us — more importantly, for schools, other industries and other critical aspects of our society.”

From Aug. 27 to Sept. 3, more than 200 bands across 15 genres performed virtual concerts for fans, which served as individual fundraisers for the bands. From Sept. 4 to Sept. 7, the festival also offered a series of drive-in concerts from 35 local musical acts to support the cause.

“(The) COVID-19 pandemic may have caused a devastating blow to musicians and others in the music industry, but it has been inspiring to see so many people offer an outpouring of support to help artists like myself,” said James Walling, of the Reefermen, in a prepared statement.

He and Paul Brady, of Stone Clover, both expressed gratitude to Arts, Beats & Eats; Oakland County; and everyone who donated to the initiative.

“I am beyond grateful for having the opportunity this past Labor Day weekend to perform live in front of an audience. We all needed this now more than ever,” Brady said in a prepared statement. “Music brings people together and it has healing powers. Music also is my life and who I am. The financial support received will go a long way for me and my bandmates, who just want to leave the worries behind and get back to what is important to us: music and bringing it live to our fans.”

Besides support for the “Beats,” the festival also held events to bolster the “Arts” and the “Eats.”

On Sept. 5 and Sept. 6, nearly 20 artists participated in a limited capacity Art by Appointment event outside the Royal Oak Farmers Market. The event resulted in approximately $40,000 in art sales throughout the weekend, according to the press release.

Tim Gralewski, a Rochester Hills-based artist and graphic designer, said he was grateful for the ticketed and socially distanced event, one of the few art fairs that was not canceled in 2020. He said he felt safe with booths set 10 feet apart, and that attendees followed mask requirements and social distancing markers.

“It went really, really good,” Gralewski said. “The artists felt a little bit of extra energy of having some kind of normalcy going on, and all the people that came out said the same thing. There was definitely excitement and a nice feeling of being out in the limited crowd.”

He said other local art fairs are tentatively planning in-person events for 2021, which he said was “inspiring.”

“My online sales (during the pandemic) have been the best online sales I’ve ever had,” Gralewski said. “I’m very cautiously optimistic for the year.”

The festival brought Eats on Your Streets to neighborhoods in Royal Oak, Clawson, Huntington Woods, Clarkston, Detroit, Rochester, Lake Orion and Ferndale. Food trucks made stops at more than 30 locations and generated $35,000 to support small business owners, according to the press release.

On Sept. 5 and Sept. 6, the festival also facilitated socially distanced yoga and Zumba fitness events, respectively.

All events were designed in collaboration with the Oakland County Health Department.

Arts, Beats & Eats plans to return Labor Day weekend Sept. 3-6, 2021.

For more information and event updates, visit or call (248) 541-7550.