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Oakland Co. awards $500K matching grant to Arts, Beats and Eats for local musicians

The festival's virtual performances kick off Thursday followed by drive-in concerts and other events Labor Day weekend

Melody Baetens
The Detroit News

Annual street festival Arts, Beats & Eats had set a fundraising goal of $500,000 from the Beats Go On, a series of virtual and drive-in concerts, and with a new matching donation from Oakland County, that pot could reach $1 million. 

Organizers and county officials announced Thursday that Oakland County will match donations raised through Labor Day weekend up to $500,000. The money will go toward local artists who normally earn at least half of their income as a musician and have been negatively affected by the closing of clubs and music venues and the cancellation of summer festivals like Arts, Beats and Eats because of the pandemic. 

Arts, Beats and Eats will have virtual and drive-in concerts this year instead of the usual line-up, like this packed concert by 311 in 2017.

“We worked closely with the Arts, Beats & Eats Foundation on their unique and creative The Beats Go On campaign to find a meaningful way to help lift up members of the music community," said Oakland County Executive David Coulter in a media alert about the grant. "The result is a direct assistance program to assist those in the creative space who’ve been especially hit hard through this time."

The grant comes to Oakland County from CARES funding, which helps those economically impacted by COVID-19.

Donations are being collected at charity.gofundme.com/o/en/campaign/the-beats-go-on.

Additionally, ticket sales from the drive-in concerts in downtown Royal Oak, Sept. 4-7 will go toward this fund. Arts, Beats & Eats producer Jon Witz said tickets, which are $30 for two people in one vehicle, are selling swiftly for the 30-minute shows. 

“The COVID-19 Pandemic has dealt a devastating blow to many of us in the music industry, severely impacting musicians both financially and emotionally. It has been inspiring though to see so many people stepping up to help support artists like myself/my band during this time of great uncertainty,” said James Wailin, lead singer of The Reefermen, which are playing one of the drive-in shows Sept. 6 at 10 p.m. 

Local band Jakdd performs as part of the Beats Go On virtual showcase at 8 p.m. Saturday at artsbeatseats.com

A series of virtual concerts are also planned, starting today, and organizers hope those will garner some donations as well. Laith Al-Saadi, Paulina Jayne, Joe Jaber and the Last Divide, Ali McManus, Djangophonique, Alan Turner, the Beggars, Pretty Stringz and the Fellas, Jakdd and the Detroit School of Rock & Pop are among some of the performers scheduled for virtual concerts. 

Visit artsbeatseats.com for information on those events, plus other activities including the Art by Appointment feature. Sponsored by The Detroit News, Art by Appointment is the festival's way of offering something to fine art-lovers that adheres to social distancing rules. 

More:Local artists to benefit from new Arts Beats & Eats virtual and drive-in music series

More:Virtual Detroit Jazz Festival to kick off with tribute to civil rights

mbaetens@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @melodybaetens