Ford Ends Support of Detroit Jazz Festival | Playbill

Classic Arts News Ford Ends Support of Detroit Jazz Festival
The Ford Motor Company has ended its decade-long sponsorship of the Detroit International Jazz Festival, endangering the festival's continued viability, the Detroit Free Press reports.
Ford was a title sponsor of the festival, contributing $250,000—about 25 percent of the event's total budget. Officials said that they would need to find another sponsor in the next 30 days in order to stage a 2005 festival.

According to the Free Press, Ford officials had concerns about the festival's business plan for 2005 and about its marketing in recent years. In addition, the paper says, the automobile company was disappointed with the number of parking passes and other perks it received from the festival.

The festival, which is run by the Music Hall Center for the Performing Arts, had planned to expand this year and to shift from Labor Day weekend, when it competes with a street fair in nearby Pontiac, to early August.

Billed as the largest free jazz festival in North America, the event drew 600,000 people last year. Performers included Aretha Franklin, Jon Hendricks, Jon Faddis, Ramsey Lewis, James Carter, and George Benson.

"It has become very much part of the fabric of our city," former mayor Dennis Archer told the Free Press. "It's something to cherish, and you don't really know what you'd miss until you lose it."

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