The Supremes started here. The Temptations started here. Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Martha Reeves & the Vandellas, Michael Jackson and so many others recorded the Motown sound in a little studio in a house on W. Grand Blvd.
Today it’s the Motown Museum, with Hitsville USA above the porch, that very much needs more space and Ford and the UAW are playing a leading role. They just announced a $6 million investment as lead donor in a $50 million expansion.
It seems only fitting a good portion of that expansion would come from Ford and the UAW. Back in 1959 when Berry Gordy started Motown Records he modeled his global hit-making factory after the Ford assembly line.
“We are thrilled to play a role in the next chapter of a global music icon,” says Joe Hinrichs, president, The Americas, Ford Motor Company, who will hold a leadership position as part of the museum’s expansion efforts. “The enhanced museum will not only upgrade the visitor experience, it also fits with our commitment to investing in the cultural heritage of Detroit and southeast Michigan.”
“It is very gratifying to support the expansion of the Motown Museum, and in doing so, we strengthen an institution that has great historical and cultural significance to our region and the world,” said Jimmy Settles, vice president, UAW. “This partnership also allows us to continue our commitment to the Motown Museum’s surrounding community, which is a community that many Detroit natives treasure.”
As part of the Ford and Ford-UAW investment, the expanded Motown Museum will include:
- Ford Motor Company Theater, a state-of-the-art performance venue
- Educational, music and other programming tied to Ford’s ongoing student and community outreach initiatives
- CARaoke Experience, in which visitors take part in an interactive Ford-branded activity that incorporates music with Ford vehicles
- Ford will be official vehicle of Motown Museum
“Motown and Ford Motor Company have wide and deeply connected roots,” says Robin R. Terry, chairwoman and CEO, Motown Museum. “As two Detroit-born brands, they have had — and continue to have today — a transformative and profound impact on creativity and innovation around the world.
The commitment is part of an additional $10 million Ford and Ford Fund, the company’s philanthropic arm, are contributing to Detroit over the next five years. Ford and Ford Fund are already investing $20 million in local educational and community programs for 2016. Investments this year and beyond include:
- New three-year sponsorship commitment with The Parade Company – producer of both America’s Thanksgiving Parade and annual Ford Fireworks
- $5 million investment to build a second Ford Resource and Engagement Center in Detroit
- $400,000 in support for Cass Community Social Services’ tiny homes neighborhood project to reduce homelessness
- $200,000 Bill Ford Better World Challenge grant to University of Detroit-Mercy to create a mobility application to connect underserved populations with local resources
“We are honored by the commitment that Ford Motor Company and UAW-Ford have made toward this exciting expansion,” says Terry. “As the lead donors and committed partners in our vision, their support will help us bring a first class destination to Detroit and the world, and will ensure that this important musical and cultural legacy is preserved and positioned to inspire the next generation of creative and innovative minds.”
Over the last 10 years, Ford and Ford Fund have made community investments totaling $161 million in the region.