Detroit Unveils New Arts Plan

Detroit Unveils New Arts Plan
February 20, 2020 Christina Amato
dp rochelle riley i7

After years of calls from the community to re-establish an arts and culture office within city government, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and Rochelle Riley, Director of Arts, Culture and Entrepreneurship, unveiled the city’s new comprehensive arts and culture plan. The plan was outlined for a group of the city’s top artists and arts supporters at Chroma, which will become a major hub for local artists located on East Grand Boulevard in the Milwaukee Junction neighborhood.

The plan – the most ambitious undertaken by the city in decades – was completed after nine months of study, reporting and meeting with residents, musicians, sculptors, muralists, foundations, artists and arts groups. It will focus on three missions:

  • Using arts and culture as catalysts for neighborhood growth
  • Honoring our existing treasures with improved promotion and branding
  • Partnerships with new and longtime arts programs, artists and residents to increase entrepreneurship.

The plan begins with the creation of the Office of Arts, Culture and Entrepreneurship, or ACE, which was established to give shape and focus to Detroit’s investments in arts and culture. To do so, Riley will announce the creation of the City of Detroit Arts Fund.

The Detroit Arts Fund will, for the first time, exist to accept tax-deductible donations to city arts programs and treasures. Riley plans to seek support not just from the longtime heroic and community-minded foundations and CEOs and businessowners, who have always supported the arts, but from every resident. All Detroit businesses will be encouraged to ask customers to “round up for the arts” and pay the next even amount on purchases.

“Detroit has been without a formal arts and culture office for many years, which has been a disservice to the incredible talent we have here. Rochelle has done a terrific job of establishing not only an office, but a real vision for arts and culture in our city that artists and funders can support,” said Mayor Duggan.

Riley, a longtime nationally syndicated columnist, said her first priority would be similar to her last, to tell the story of Detroit’s genius.

“Detroit has always been one of the most artistic, innovative and culturally significant cities in the world, but we don’t always tell our story,” she said. “It’s time to not only toot our horn, but to make sure people know who played the horn first.”

The second priority, Riley said, is to ensure that Detroit is never again without city government support for its creative industry. That means creating something sustainable.

The ACE Office will work to provide place-making and place-keeping support for artists in their effort to own homes and art and music studios; work to give artists social media and financial literacy training to enable them to make a better living; and raise awareness about how great the arts are in Detroit.

Detroit Artist Census Among Plans

Besides support for neighborhood arts houses and Neighborhood Arts Fellows to guide the look of areas the city is transforming, it also includes plans for an artist census to document the sheer volume of creatives in the city.

What the ACE office will do best is partner with artists, arts programs and institutes. It doesn’t have to reinvent the wheel. It just needs to grease the wheel, Riley said.

ACE will seek the help of everyone in the region, everyone in the state – because so many state residents had their childhoods, their first library visit, their first museum experience in Detroit.

“We want to ensure support for our artistic community, our creative industry and all of those involved in it, not just for Detroit, but because Detroit is a Michigan jewel,” Riley added.

The ACE announcement also includes news about a major new theater event for the city.