Arts, Beats & Eats brings $39 million to Royal Oak

By Chad Halcom

The inaugural Ford Arts, Beats & Eats Presented by Citizens Bank had around a $39 million economic benefit to the area its first year in Royal Oak, and the show itself may have made pulled in more than a 10 percent profit above its expenses, according to new data released today.

The Sept. 3-6 festival in downtown Royal Oak drew a total crowd of 423,000, including 172,000 who paid the $3 festival gate admission. That’s well above the 225,000 that turned out for its last year in Pontiac and the 80,000 or so paying guests it would have needed to break even on a previously reported $1.35 million operating budget.

The festival producer also announced today the event raised a record-setting $351,213 for 90 nonprofits and cultural organizations out of its gate admission, beverage proceeds, the Arts Du Jour charity preview event and parking fees, as well as sponsorships and other festival initiatives

Preliminary figures released today by Oakland County today on the festival indicate the total economic impact was around $39 million, and total bar, restaurant and retail revenue of $15,335,000. The average visitor spent $94.30 during the four-day festival, organizers estimated.

“There was definitely a combination of more interest and more attention the admission fee, and the amount of paying people grew as a share of attendance,” said Jonathan Witz, president of Jonathan Witz and Associates Inc. and the festival producer.

“There won’t need to be too many changes to the business model. We’d like to expand the event by a few blocks next year, and we’re still working with the city on that idea. We’re also considering a few other (minor) changes.”

The attendance meant a combined of $164,396 of proceeds from gate fees went to 13 participating nonprofits. Witz has said in the past those charities would collect half of the $3 charge after a 50 cent share was allocated to the city and certain cultural organizations — or $1.25 per ticket after the first 20,000 sales.

“(Turnout) was beyond expectation,” Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson said in a statement. “Not only was it a boost for Royal Oak restaurants and businesses, it will continue to pay off in the future after some attendees rediscovered how great an entertainment destination Royal Oak is.”

Beverage sales also generated a combined $76,850 for 22 participating charitable and cultural groups, while parking fees generated $17,940 for 34 organizations and 10 charitites will receive a combined $35,177 from Arts Du Jour, an advance evening event. Five churches will also receive a combined $15,000 and 17 cultural organizations another $28,850.

The county’s economic impact figures are derived from the Michigan Tourism Spending and Economic Impact Model, developed for Travel Michigan as a tool to compute the impact of tourism-intensive projects.

Witz has said previously the festival itself also collects around $1.25 per gate admission after the first 20,000 sales. He and Royal Oak City Manager have said the city would distribute 20 percent of total parking profits apiece to the festival and to the Royal Oak Downtown Development Authority, over and above the city’s own costs for police, fire, public works services and the contract for a shuttle carrier.

The DDA had contributed $100,000 as an event sponsor, and Witz said the parking revenues generated enough for the city to cover all those expenses and send a share to the festival and its participating nonprofits.

Based on past estimates provided to Crain’s for the pre-show sponsorship support and exhibitor and vendor fees, that could mean total festival revenues of more than $1.5 million.

Source Link – Crain’s Detroit Business

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