Your Business Should Be Like A Jazz Combo

Josh Linkner, Founder of Pleasant Ridge MI based E-Prize

With only four measures left before my solo starts, I feel an overwhelming rush of adrenaline. The club is packed at this late hour with local jazz fans. The bandleader finishes his scorching trumpet solo, and the crowd erupts with applause. The attention turns to me. It's my time to improvise.

With less than 1% of the notes we play written down, we jazz musicians have to make it up as we go. It's art in real time--no going back to correct mistakes or rethink a passage. Years of practice and experience, as well my reputation, are on the line. The pressure is huge, but so is the excitement. It's time to bring everything I have to this moment and deliver something that is both technically right and infused with creativity. Passion and skill must connect to form something new that satisfies both me as an artist and the hypercritical audience.

Change the musical references to corporate ones, and I've described the daily life of nearly all businesspeople. Like jazz, business success is most often determined by creativity and original thought, not just technical mastery. Jazz and business legends are both remembered by what they create, by how they change the world.

Companies that win in the future will function more like jazz bands. They will constantly reinvent their work and seek fresh, new approaches. They will reward risk taking and originality. And while leaders will still exist, they will ensure that everyone has a voice. Jazz groups--and business success--demand it.

At my company, ePrize, we improvised our way from a raw idea to domination of the 100-year-old sweepstakes industry in under a decade. We didn't follow any written rules, the business equivalent of a musician's notes on a page; we discovered our own new ground each step of the way. The sweepstakes world was old-fashioned and fear-based. We took a jazz approach and attacked it differently.

We blended the agency world with the software world to offer a completely new solution for our customers, which in time came to include 74 of the top 100 brands in the world. Along the way, we constantly tried new things. Some worked; some failed miserably. But as we took more risks, we enjoyed more successes. Like jazz musicians, we created something new almost every day.

We also took turns letting one another shine. The company quickly grew into much more than just me, the founder. It became a place where talented people could come to express themselves and make a difference, a place that empowered our team to reach its highest potential. Like Miles Davis' ensemble in the 1950s, we attracted the best and brightest talent by providing a place where gifted people could showcase their brilliance.

With the business world radically changed, a jazz combo is an effective metaphor for what it takes to win in the postrecession global economy. Here are four ways to make your company more like a jazz group:

Encourage risk taking. Jazz musicians who play it safe rarely find gigs. The same can be said about you and your company. If you're not making mistakes at least 10% of the time, you're not risking enough.

Be remarkable. Audiences don't remember technical competence. They remember the musician who dares to be different. Our world is full of sameness, and no customer of yours needs another me-too solution.

Let each individual shine. Bandleaders aren't the only people who solo at a jazz gig. Every musician takes a turn in the spotlight. That allows the best ideas to flow and makes for a highly engaged team. Grant each person in your group autonomy and room for creative expression and you'll build a stronger, more innovative team.

Mix it up and keep it fresh. Jazz musicians are known for exploring the never-been-done-before. One night they'll play a ballad as an up-tempo swing. The next night they'll do the song with just saxophone and upright bass. They're constantly trying new things and new combinations. This prevents us from getting into ruts and keeps everyone in the group in their creative zone. In your world, move desks around. Try a job-swap program and give people new projects to develop. Arrange a field trip to get people out of the office for inspiration. Mixing it up is a great source of creativity.

As commoditization, cost-cutting, and a global workforce continue to erode competitive advantage, you have to create to win. Original thought and innovation have become the currency of success, the only sustainable competitive advantage. The jazz musician's ability to improvise, take risks, adapt to change and forge new ground are skills we all need to develop in our current economy of bureaucratic sameness. To make a real difference in your company, think of your business tools as instruments for creative expression. Rally your team, show up fully and don't forget to jam.

Josh Linkner is the founder and chairman of ePrize, and is a jazz guitarist who has played professionally for 25 years. He blogs at 

Three Ways To Take It 

Excerpt from Detroit: A True American City

If you follow me on Twitter (shameless plug) you know that I was on a corporate tour that had me in a couple Midwest towns these past two days. While I’m setting the stage, shout out to Right Coast Lex Steele for subbing in for me last minute yesterday while I was in Detroit. Visiting that city kind of inspired me. Sure we’ve all cracked jokes about how messed up it is. Everything from the old Detroit Lions stadium going for $583, 000 to the “It’s So Cold in the D” phenomenon have made the Motor City a constant punch line. I know I’ve told my fair share as well. But, after actually walking and driving around that city I realized a few things.

We Need to Start Taking Care of Our Own

While I was driving around I wondered – why aren’t there any fundraisers or infomercials for these kinds of cities? I understand that we should reach out and help Third World countries in their time of need. I’m all about being humanitarian. However, there comes a point where we need to use those funds to help ourselves. There were places in Detroit that were as impoverished as some of the lands we send money to help. I talked to a teenage kid who could barely put sentences together. We’re so quick to send cash or volunteer in various nations who need our help when there are many who could use that help right here. Detroit is far from alone.

Through Out It All, The Pride Is Still There

Underneath it all, there is still a lot of pride. My coworkers and I wandered into a BBQ spot named Slows within one of the many downtrodden neighborhoods. The outside of the restaurant looked as war torn as the rest of the locale, but the inside was totally refurbished and revitalized. Not only was the building refreshed, it seemed like the attitudes of the people inside were as well. That’s the happiest I’ve ever seen anyone that lived in Detroit and I have to admit I forgot about where we were as well.

The weird thing is, being in Detroit made me proud to be an American. It’s a true American city and my heart felt for the residents there. It was evident that there is still a lot of happiness and reverence for Detroit, but it’s buried deep below a lot of poverty and rubble.

This may seem like old news to you, but I will confidently tell you there’s a big difference between watching it on CNN and looking at it with your own eyes.

Seattle – …Yes, It Was Cold in the D – Washington

Eric Asimov
New York Times

A Delicious Free-for-All

A GOOD selection of Belgian-style ales is like the very best kind of buffet, offering an assortment of flavors, aromas, styles, strengths and types. You want strong ale, sour ale, sweet ale, dry ale, golden, dark, wheat, fruity and malty. When we set out to draw a stylistic standard for a planned tasting of Belgian golden ales, it seemed as if we’d taken on an impossible task. But glory does not come to those who quit easily.

So we forged ahead. We gathered Belgian golden ales and their foreign relatives as if they were snowflakes, aware that each was so unusual, and often so beautiful in a singular way, that it would resist any but the roughest categorization.

The blind tasting of these 20 Belgian-style ales was truly glorious, beer at its highest level. For the tasting Florence Fabricant and I were joined by Christian Pappanicholas, the owner of Resto, a Belgian restaurant in the Murray Hill section of Manhattan, and Richard Scholz, an owner of Bierkraft in Park Slope, Brooklyn.

Our efforts to categorize the beers withered in the face of diversity. Ostensibly, we sought strong golden ales, which at least suggests beers with a lot of alcohol and of a certain color, right? Well, not exactly. Of the 20 we ended up with, most were golden, but some tended toward amber and brown. And while some of the beers were strong, with alcohol levels of 9 to 13 percent, a handful were in the 6 percent range, about the strength of a typical pilsner.

But most were so good that we lost interest in whether they conformed to our parameters. We had beers that tasted of spices, like coriander and cloves, and those that tasted like fruit. Some were aged in oak barrels. One beer resembled the most exotic sort of lambic, a type of beer that is brewed using wild yeasts rather than those selected by brewers to produce predictable results. It had a sour funkiness that is a taste well worth acquiring. Another was so bitterly hoppy and dry that the beer seemed to have the texture of cotton, which was actually not unpleasant.

“The diversity is what makes them amazing,” Richard said. “Belgians go out of their way to make unique beers, different from the guy two blocks away.”

One thing that brings together what the beer writer Randy Mosher has called “all this joyful chaos” is the use of highly distinctive yeasts. While the choice of yeast is important for any brewer, it is crucial for the producers of Belgian beers, who look to yeasts for many of the idiosyncratic flavors in their brews.

“The yeast is what’s different,” Richard added. “It’s the underlying flavor component.”

The diversity of these beers also makes their appeal very personal. I mentioned a beer that reminded me of a lambic — that was the No. 4 beer of our top 10, the Good Harbor Golden Ale from Leelanau, brewed in Dexter, Mich. We loved this beer, but it has an unusual flavor that some may find off-putting at first. I recommend sticking with it, though, because once you begin to like these sorts of beers you can’t help but seek them out.

Of the 20 beers we tasted, 10 were from Belgium, nine from the United States and one from Canada. It says something about the skill and ambition of American brewers that three of our top four were from the United States.

Our No. 1 beer was the Oro de Calabaza from Jolly Pumpkin, which, like the Good Harbor Ale, is from Dexter, Mich., a small town near Ann Arbor. A cabal of Belgian beer lovers in Dexter?

Perhaps, but these two beers were brewed by the same man, Ron Jeffries, the founder of Jolly Pumpkin, who also finds time to do the brewing for Leelanau. Both of these beers were unfiltered, giving them a hazy appearance, and aged in barrels, but beyond that they are completely different. While the Good Harbor was funky, the Oro de Calabaza was spicy, fruity and floral, with soft carbonation and fresh, vibrant flavors. Same man, different yeasts, at the least.

Our No. 2 beer was the Valeir Divers from Contreras, a small brewery in the East Flanders region of Belgium. Once again, a totally different beer, with an aroma that reminded me of fresh corn, and complex flavors. The beer also had a touch of sweetness, but it was so well balanced that it seemed to be dry.

Another Contreras beer, the Valeir Extra, also made our top 10, coming in at No. 7. The Extra seemed less complex than the Divers, with more bitterness from hops. The Web site of the Contreras importer, 12 Percent, categorizes the Extra as a Belgian India pale ale, and the Divers as a Tripel, a style of golden beer modeled on Trappist beers. We’re simply going to call them Belgian golden ales.

The tasting panel’s top American beer not from Dexter, Mich., was AleSmith’s Horny Devil, from San Diego, a bright, spicy, beautifully balanced brew that wears its 11 percent alcohol very lightly. We also very much liked the Canadian entry, the Unibroue Maudite, which had a balance of spicy and fruity flavors that we found refreshing.

One surprise in our tasting was that Duvel, the classic example of a strong golden ale, did not make our top 10. This especially surprised me as I loved its spicy, flowery flavors, which lingered in the mouth, but my colleagues felt the example we tasted was not as fresh as it ought to be, so they voted it out.

Freshness is always an issue when dealing with imported beers, which have to travel a long way in not-always-ideal conditions. This was not a problem, naturally, with Local 1 from Brooklyn Brewery, which was spicy and tart, punctuated with a refreshing bitterness.

While hoppy bitterness is not often considered a trademark of Belgian brewers, our No. 10 beer, the XX Bitter from De Ranke, was replete with it. It was perhaps the hoppiest Belgian beer I have ever tasted, and the driest, a strange but compelling combination that we indeed liked.

Among the many unusual qualities of these beers is the pricing. They are not cheap. The Het Anker Lucifer, from Belgium, for example, cost $6 for an 11.2-ounce bottle.

Our No. 1, Jolly Pumpkin, cost $18 for a cork-topped 750-milliliter bottle. Yes, it’s a lot more than a six-pack of Pabst. But these are not industrial beers. They are hand-brewed by artisans. I think you’ll taste the difference, in all their confounding glory.

Tasting Report: Belgian in Attitude, if Not in Origin

Jolly Pumpkin Oro de Calabaza


★★★ ½ (Three and a Half Stars) Dexter, Mich. 750 milliliters

Fresh, lively and softly carbonated with complex spicy, floral, fruity aromas and flavors.

Contreras Valeir Divers


★★★ ½ (Three and a Half Stars)

Gavere, Belgium 11.2 ounces

Dry and beautifully balanced, with toasty, complex flavors and a refreshing bitterness. (12 Percent, Brooklyn, N.Y.)

AleSmith Horny Devil


★★★ ½ (Three and a Half Stars)

San Diego 750 milliliters

Breezy, spicy flavor with lots of coriander balanced by crisp hops bitterness.

Leelanau Good Harbor Golden Ale


★★★ (Three Stars) Dexter, Mich. 750 milliliters

Tart, sour and beautifully funky with wild, vibrant citrus flavors and subtle sweetness.

Unibroue Maudite


★★★ (Three Stars)

Chambly, Quebec 12 ounces

Balanced and refreshing with spicy, fruity flavors. (Unibrew U.S.A., Shelburne, Vt.)

Het Anker Lucifer


★★★ (Three Stars)

Mechelen, Belgium 11.2 ounces

Complex and bright with aromas and flavors of flowers, spices and citrus. (Wetten Importers, Sterling, Va.)

Contreras Valeir Extra


★★ ½ (Two and a Half Stars)

Gavere, Belgium 11.2 ounces

Flavors of spices and citrus; not complex but refreshing and balanced. (12 Percent, Brooklyn, N.Y.)

’T Gaverhopke Singing Blond


★★ ½ (Two and a Half Stars)

Harelbeke, Belgium 11.2 ounces

Funky flavors of spice and citrus with a touch of sweetness. (12 Percent, Brooklyn, N.Y.)

Brooklyn Local 1


★★ ½ (Two and a Half Stars)

Brooklyn, N.Y. 750 milliliters

Spicy and tart with a pleasing hoppy bitterness.

De Ranke XX Bitter


★★ ½ (Two and a Half Stars)

Wevelgem, Belgium 11.2 ounces

Ultra dry, ultra hoppy and very bitter, yet strangely refreshing. (Shelton Brothers, Belchertown, Mass.)

World-renowned figure skaters are set to take the ice in a benefit exhibition to support CARE House of Oakland County on Saturday, March 6 at Detroit Skating Club in Bloomfield Hills, Mich.

Skaters will perform various ice dancing routines and children    currently undergoing treatment at CARE House will have a chance    to skate with the professionals at the end of the night.
A guest appearance by 2010 Winter Olympics ice dancing silver medalists Meryl Davis and Charlie White is also scheduled.

The event is open to the public and admission cost is donation- only, with all proceeds benefiting CARE House of Oakland County,    an organization that serves the immediate needs of neglected and abused children in Oakland County.

Scheduled to skate include:

Jeremy Abbott, 2009 & 2010 US Men’s Champion and 2010 United States Winter Olympic Team member

Alissa Czisny, 2009 Ladies Champion

Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje, 2010 Canadian Ice Dance Bronze Medalists

Saturday, March 6, 2009

Exhibition scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.

Detroit Skating Club
888 Denison Ct., Bloomfield Hills

CARE House recently announced a capital campaign that will raise funds to build a new facility for the 33 year-old organization. The CARE House Campaign For Kids will raise $4 million to build a 14,000 square-foot building and replace the existing 6,500 square foot building in Pontiac, Mich.

CARE House needs a new facility to match the demand for its services in the community, which is growing at a steady rate, creating an urgent need for increased intervention and therapeutic services, as well as advocacy and prevention programs.
Associated Press

The state's popular Pure Michigan tourism campaign would get a short-term boost through legislation approved Wednesday by the state Senate.

A bill approved 37-1 directs the state to add $9.5 million in use taxes to a fund for the promotion this budget year. The bill, which now advances to the House, would raise the total funding for the advertising campaign this budget year to about $15 million.

That's roughly half the level of last fiscal year. Tourism officials want more money, and Democrats argue the promotion needs at least $30 million to run a solid national campaign. But Republicans rejected an amendment that would have raised more money for the program through fees added to some rental cars.
Republican Sen. Jason Allen of Traverse City said the Senate-approved bill is a first step but work must continue on a long-term funding plan.

Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm had proposed adding a fee to rental cars at airports to raise money for the campaign in the next fiscal year. Granholm said Wednesday the campaign needs "a more robust flow of money."
By Marc Hertz

The team's third annual Pistons Care Telethon will benefit the Food Bank Council of Michigan.

I'm a lifelong Detroit Pistons fan. I was born in Detroit and even though I grew up in Hawaii, I religiously followed the Pistons. Like many teams, they've had their struggles for periods of time, but unlike fans of many teams, I've also been rewarded with three NBA championships. And while the team seems to be on another downswing, I can still take an immense amount of pride in the fact that the team's generosity is on a major upswing.

Throughout the day Tuesday, the team is throwing a telethon to benefit the Food Bank Council of Michigan. Every dollar given will help provide five meals for those people facing hunger, while a donation as generous as $200 will feed a senior citizen for an entire year. The telethon began at 6 a.m. in Detroit, with live TV and radio broadcasts from The Palace (where the Pistons play their home games). In addition, there's an auction going on through March 8 at NBA Auctions, and all the proceeds from the auction will benefit the telethon. Fans can bid on a chance to go bowling with former Pistons great Rick Mahorn, the opportunity to play a game of H.O.R.S.E. with Pistons player Ben Gordon, or a gourmet dinner prepared by Piston Richard Hamilton's personal chef, among others.

The day will be capped off by the Pistons game against the Boston Celtics at 7:30 p.m., and the team is selling tickets that will provide meals to Michigan families, with a $20 ticket translating to 50 meals and a $50 ticket meaning 125 meals.

This is the third annual Pistons Care Telethon. The first one in 2008 was the first time an NBA team presented a home game as a charitable fundraiser. Last year's fundraiser, which benefited Feed the Children, raised $450,000 in pledges and helped 25,000 families across the state of Michigan.

Even if you're not in Michigan, you can still help. Go to to donate or call 877-499-2010. And according to the Detroit News, any donations of $5 or more will be entered into a raffle that will be held during tonight's game, with prizes including team memorabilia and a grand prize where two fans get to travel on the Pistons team plane to a road game.

Image courtesy of the Detroit Pistons.

A Prairie Home Companion 

February 27, 2010 // Show #1242

This week on A Prairie Home Companion, it's a soulful live broadcast performance from the Fox Theatre in Detroit, Michigan. With soul writing and performing legend "Sir" Mack Rice, the Great Lady of Soul, Bettye LaVette, and sisters Jearlyn and Jevetta Steele. Also with us, organist John Lauter; The Guy's All-Star Shoe Band; Richard Dworsky, Pat Donohue, Gary Raynor, Andy Stein, and Peter Johnson, The Royal Academy of Radio Actors; Tim Russell, Sue Scott, and Fred Newman, and the latest News from Lake Wobegon.

Siri Agrell
The Globe and Mail

The corner of Brush Street and General Motors Boulevard is not the place you expect to see something beautiful. A row of abandoned houses droop in the snow, their windows broken and doors boarded up. Empty lots are overgrown with weeds and a fleet of police cars lines a fenced-in lot, ready for action in a neighbourhood where crime is the main inhabitant. There are no snowy footprints on the sidewalk, and a dingy gas station goes unvisited. But on the side of a nine-storey warehouse a huge mural cuts through the palpable gloom, more than 10,000 square feet of sky blue streaming drips of red, purple, orange and yellow down the building's western wall.

The Illuminated Mural was painted last August by artist Katie Craig, part of a citywide initiative that allowed six Detroit communities to commission large-scale works of art for their neighbourhoods.

Years of decay and decline have turned Detroit's downtown core into a ghost town, miles of crumbling houses, empty lots and boarded-up businesses creating an apocalyptic zone of nothingness between the central business district and the still-vibrant suburbs.

But a community of artists has moved into the void, drawn by the promise of cheap real estate and free rein.

Some of their projects are done in partnership with local businesses and cultural institutions, desperate to put a more attractive face on their blighted city, but others have adopted a guerrilla approach, taking over decrepit spaces only an artist could love. Together, the work is redefining a city best known for its dying automotive industry and Eminem's 8 Mile, and suggests that it may just be possible for a city to save itself with art.

The most visible of Detroit's artistic makeovers have utilized the city's most abundant found material: abandoned buildings.

Recently, two New York transplants covered a deserted house with water, transforming it into a glittering monument to decay called The Ice House. The work follows in the footsteps of Object Orange, in which a group of anonymous art students painted abandoned properties in bright orange paint, highlighting empty properties that had been left to rot, and expediting the demolition of many buildings by city authorities.

Another nameless crew draped blue flags from the windows of an empty building that was once Michigan Central Station. And when Olayame Dabls bought an empty building next to his store, the African Bead Museum, he responded to a city order to board it up by covering the exterior with a mosaic of mirrored glass, iron and wood.

“There's guerrilla art going on here. It's quite amazing,” said Richard Rogers, president of the College for Creative Studies, a college of art and design. “Artists are moving in from other parts of the world to experience this energy that seems to be developing.”

He moved from New York City 10 years ago, much to the surprise of his friends. People think of Detroit as decayed, destroyed, post-apocalyptic, he said, and largely beyond repair. “Artists don't really look at things that way,” he said. “Artists go into places that other people aren't interested in and transform them.”

The artistic vision for Detroit can be traced back to Heidelberg Street, where Tyree Guyton began an installation nearly 25 years ago transforming his childhood neighbourhood into a walkable museum.

His work exists in the midst of a huge residential wasteland, where more than 90 per cent of homes are abandoned. He has turned the street into some sort of Disney park gone wrong, with trees hung with shopping carts and a rowboat stacked with rotting stuffed toys. One home is covered in brightly coloured numbers, to help local children learn to count, and a residence known as the Dotty Wotty House is covered in bright circles of colour.

In the 1990s, the city twice attempted to demolish the work, but Mr. Guyton has since registered the Heidelberg Project as a non-profit, one that now employs three full-time and two part-time staff. They have 30 volunteers, a swarm of interns and a lead designer on loan from the University of Michigan. What once was seen as an eyesore is now viewed as a template for revival. Executive director Jenenne Whitfield, Mr. Guyton's wife, says the project draws 250,000 visitors a year, making it Detroit's third-largest tourist destination. Last summer, a group of European tourists held a picnic in the middle of the street.

But the aim is not just to become an outdoor gallery. Ms. Whitfield says they want to rebuild the community around the art. Already, two artists have moved onto the street, and Ms. Whitfield hopes that more will follow, and signs of life will spread outward from the project. “As far as I'm concerned, Detroit is a blank canvas,” she said. “We're infusing energy into a community that has lost hope.”

Artist Mitch Cope did not think of his hometown as a worthy palette when he was growing up, but during a brief western sojourn for graduate school, he could think only of projects that would improve Detroit.

In 2005, he and his wife, Gina Reichert, bought a home in the city for less than $2,000 and transformed the ramshackle property into a brightly coloured artist studio that is completely off the grid, powered by solar panels. The couple now own three houses and two additional lots, and have been recruiting artists from Germany, Chicago and San Francisco with the promise of homes as cheap as $100 and the ability to work outside the system.

“They come here because they see those cities as being unmovable,” he said of his friends. “You have to have a normal job in order to survive and you can't do anything a little more creative or offline.”

Although Mr. Cope and his wife go about most of their work unbothered by bureaucracy, they have been given the tacit support of a city with nothing to lose. One official from the mayor's office said he could not provide funding, but would take care of any local crime. Mr. Cope sent the man a list of nearby drug houses, which were raided by police the very next day.

Having hit rock bottom, Detroit is game to try something new, and there is a willingness to partner with artists that does not exist in other cities.

For years, the maze of buildings that make up the Russell Industrial Center sat empty, more than a million square feet of industrial space that once housed an auto-body supplier owned by Henry and Leona Helmsley. In the early 2000s, a new owner tried to find a manufacturer to move in, before realizing he could fill the space by renting individual studios to local artists. The centre is now home to photographers and musicians, film studios and architects, glassblowers and graphic designers.

Individual artists are not the only ones who see creativity as a means to improve Detroit's lot. Large-scale cultural projects have also been drawing attention to the city, and helping to establish its reputation on the international art scene.

The Detroit Institute of Art was renovated in 2007, receiving an additional 77,000 square feet to house its billion-dollar collection. The Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit opened in 2006 in a former car dealership, and the Kresge Foundation, a local philanthropic force, has begun issuing grants to 18 individual artists each year. A group called Detroit Renaissance has poured $50-million into the Creative Corridor project, which will fund artistic endeavours down Woodward Avenue, the city's downtown thoroughfare.

And last year, the College for Creative Studies took over General Motors' former engineering and design building, giving it a $145-million renovation to create a secondary campus, which houses undergraduate design programs as well as an art-focused charter school. In 2009, the college experienced its highest enrolment numbers to date.

“I think there's a very strong recognition of the role of art in moving the transformation along,” said Mr. Rogers.

He believes Detroit is following in the footsteps of places such as the SoHo neighbourhood of New York and Berlin, where artists moved into the void left by industry and created vibrant communities.

But, for the transformation to flourish, Mr. Rogers warns that artists cannot feel co-opted by the redevelopment movement. “To some extent, artists prefer to operate outside,” he said. “As soon as the mainstream recognizes them, it's over and they move on elsewhere.”

The city's pull shows no sign of waning. Mr. Cope says he receives daily correspondence from artists around the world inquiring about the city, and how they can buy a house for less than $1,000. He encourages them all to come, but he takes a skeptical view of those who arrive without a community-improvement angle. He views The Ice House and Object Orange as dilettante excursions into the city by artists with no real message or motive. And he hopes Detroit draws creative minds who want to improve the city's portfolio, as well as their own.

“Instead of doing something that results in getting a house torn down, why don't you do something that results in a house being fixed up?” he said. “It's an end not a beginning.”

And he is sure to warn his friends that Detroit is not an easy place to live. Yes, you can take over whole neighbourhoods as a canvas for your work, but finding a decent cup of coffee is not so easy. That said, he is glad Detroit is now being seen as an artistic draw.

“It's okay to be romantic about it,” he said. “For a long time, people just wanted to get away from here.”
Each spring, the young professionals group of the Michigan Opera Theatre Volunteer Association (MOTVA) plans and executes one of the most successful and highly anticipated cultural events of the year. BravoBravo! brings together the very best of Detroit.

The event highlights the city's top restaurants, showcases its best live musical acts and brings together thousands of revelers all in support of Michigan Opera Theatre (MOT). This year BravoBravo!, presented by Bank of America, will run from 7:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. Friday, June 4, 2010 at the Detroit Opera House, 1526 Broadway, in Detroit.

In its 11th year, BravoBravo! takes on a fashion theme, showcasing an artistic industry that has long lived under the radar in Detroit. Experience Haute Couture with a Detroit edge as it moves off the runway and inside the corridors of the opulent Detroit Opera House.  This year's event is co-chaired by three of Detroit's most involved young professionals: Jerrid Mooney, Jen Knapp, and Rich Rice.

Events like BravoBravo! are crucial to the continued success and daily operation of Michigan Opera Theatre.  In 2009, BravoBravo! drew a record crowd of over 2,000 young professionals and raised over $180,000 to support MOT.

This year organizers hope to surpass those efforts and reach a goal of $250,000 to support MOT's artistic and educational programs. Since its inception, BravoBravo! has raised more than $833,000 and is considered a crucial fundraising effort for Michigan Opera Theatre.

Tickets for this year's event are $85 in advance and will go on sale April 1, 2010.  VIP tickets are available for $125 and include valet parking and early admission at 6:30 p.m.  Purchase tickets at the Detroit Opera House box office, by phone at (313) 237-SING, or online at The event is expected to sell out.

Media interested in covering the event should request credentials no later than Tuesday, June 1, 2010 by contacting Rebekah Johnson at

BravoBravo! attendees must be 21 or older. Sponsorship opportunities are available; please contact Michelle DeLand for sponsorship information at (313) 237-3402 or

More information, including participating restaurants and entertainment details, will be announced as the event draws closer.  For a video preview, photos, and more information on BravoBravo! please visit