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Ford Detroit International Jazz Festival Expands

DETROIT (CelebrityAccess MediaWire) — The Detroit Free-Press has announced that the Ford Detroit International Jazz Festival will be expanding for 2005.

The latest plan, which has yet to be approved, will continue the jazz portion of the festival at the Hart Plaza and adds a second stage for blues, Motown, gospel and R&B at the Campus Martius park three blocks away. Most of the streets between the two stages will be closed to cars and lined with food booths so festival goers can easily get back and forth between the two sites. The plan also calls for a stage midway between the two main stages for local bands.

"We're creating two festivals under one umbrella," artistic director Frank Malfitano told the paper. "Separating them respects our history, but it also allows us to introduce some new things."

The festival has been operating in the red for the past few years adding up to $1 million in losses since 2000. 2004 was the first time in five years the festival had a balanced budget. Festival organizers are hoping that the expansion will help bring in more people and increased corporate sponsorship.

The current plan marks only the first phase in what officials hope will be a major revamping of the festival. Malfitano’s long term plan includes adding up to five more stages as well as indoor venues. Before this can happen festival producers will have to prove that the expansion is not a mistake.

Ron Thomas, manager of corporate alliances for the Ford Motor Company – the largest sponsor of the festival – said, “We have to be convinced they can pull this off” before investing any more money. Ford’s agreement with the festival, in which Ford agreed to pay $250,000 per year to have their name included in the title, expired in 2004. –by CelebrityAccess Staff Writers

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