Royal Oak brings back summer concerts
Art Explored ‘Live’ kicks off Thursday
ROYAL OAK — The only music usually heard in downtown Royal Oak is what permeates from inside the bars and restaurants.
But the Royal Oak Commission for the Arts plans to change that when it kicks off its Art Explored ‘Live” summer concert series on Thursday on the Royal Oak Public Library lawn.
Jason Gittinger, who is the ROCFA chair and executive producer of The Detroit School of Rock and Pop Music, said the six-week series is going to “be unlike any other community concert series in metro Detroit.”
“Most communities lob softballs to the public,” he said of the type of performers usually asked to play at community concerts. “We are not going to short change them. These are great bands and people you don’t see at most city park concerts.”
Student involvement also was important to Gittinger, and each date will feature students from his school opening the show. The Royal Oak High School Jazz Combo also is scheduled to perform on Aug. 8.
Following the student groups are two professional performers, ranging in genres from funk, world and country to jazz, punk rockability and funky party rock.
Lesley Braden, ROCFA vice chair, said it’s great to bring live music back downtown, and called it a “beautiful cycle” because it brings a wide variety of people to the area to shop, eat and interact with other community members.
“It’s family-friendly and great for everyone,” she said.
Art Explored “Live” is just one of the public art programs the commission is bringing downtown. The other is Art Explored, and its focus is on giving local artists a place to showcase their work outdoors.
Stewart Meek, assistant to the city manager, said the city commission and staff think bringing art downtown will only enhance the atmosphere.
“We are very fortunate we have a strong arts and culture community here and we want to capitalize on it,” he said.
Artists submitted applications for Art Explored and six will have their work displayed. Meek said they are hoping to get the pieces installed by mid-to-late July.
The art will be up for a year before it is replaced by a new cycle of art. Also 25 percent of the proceeds from any art that is sold will go to the commission for the arts.
“I almost feel it’s overdue to have these temporary, and hopefully at some point permanent, fixtures in the community because we are a community that embraces all sorts of art,” Braden said.
Gittinger said he wants people to see Royal Oak as more than bars, and creating a sense of community is important.
“I’m a big believer in the connection you can make with other people through music and the arts,” he said. “It’s not a spoken connection, but there is a shared experience for everyone involved.”
For more information about Art Explored and Art Explored “Live,” visit www.ci.royal-oak.mi/portal/community-links/commission-arts.
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