Wait 'Til Next Year For Ft. Wayne Music Fest

July 13, 2012, 5:04 PM by  Doron Levin

Prospecto 2012, the music festival planned for historic Ft. Wayne in late August, has been postponed for a year.

The Grand Rapids-based organizers of the youth-oriented festival of music and culture, along the lines of Coachella near Palm Springs and Lollapalooza in Chicago, were not able to line up a title sponsor in time for an August 24-26 event.

The probability of the event taking place next year will depend on the willingness of a title sponsor to put up $400,000 or more – or perhaps a number of corporate sponsors or investors willing to put up money. Lollapalooza 2012 lists more than 35 corporate sponsors on its website, including Dell, Toyota and Sony Playstation.

“In truth we were really battling against the very limited amount of time we had to line everything up,” said Benjamin Hunter, founder and creative director. “We had great support from Google, Coke and Red Bull. And from our partner Jack Krasula of Star Tickets.”

Hunter said he and organizers now are shooting for Aug. 23-25 as the dates of Prospecto 2013. “Time is on our side,” said Hunter. “The capital we need to raise for this type of event is vastly more than what we did in Grand Rapids.”

Originally operated as an ancillary event to the international ArtPrize contest in Grand Rapids, Prospecto is conceived as an entertainment spectacle that will “tell the story of Detroit, focusing on the great history and entrepreneurial spirit of the city,” he said.

“To get the ball rolling we need to raise somewhere in the range of $1 million to $1.5 million – to bring it off in stellar fashion, with headliners like David Bowie or Prince, takes about $5 million,” he said.

As many as 100,000 to 150,000 might come to the festival over a three-day period, he said.

Prospecto organizers began their efforts in January and originally thought that Belle Isle might be the ideal venue. Eventually they settled on Ft. Wayne, a riverfront venue near Livernois and W. Jefferson, and now are sure that it is the best possible site. “Not many people are aware of how magnificent the property is,” said Hunter, who also works as professor of communications at Grand Valley State University.

Ft. Wayne is an important relic of history largely unknown to many Detroiters, apart from those who come to see the museum of the Tuskegee Airmen or to historical re-enactors who use the grounds to stage mock battles. The city’s recreation department also has used the fields for soccer games and practices.

The original fort was built in 1845 to protect against a possible British invasion, which never took place. The reason for the fear of invasion was caused by Canadians and Americans who were trying to foment a breakaway of Canada from Great Britain, the little known Patriot Wars of the 1830s. Later the property became a U.S. military installation where U.S. troops were mustered before going off to war.

Ft. Wayne looks like an ideal place to stage a music festival: river view, grassy open spaces and historical buildings that stand as a reminder of the country’s long history – plus a shelter for the musicians (at least) in case of rain.

Hunter credited city council member Ken Cockrel for helping “to navigate” and to network in Detroit. “There are no hard feelings,” he said. “We knew what we were up against.”

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