By Sherri Kolade
Detroit is king when it comes to making art an institution locally while historically being recognized around the world.
The city is continuing in its unique passion for arts and culture and it’s now all about supporting its brilliant creatives in a new, sustainable way with a long-term housing solution through a notable art entity, Artspace.
Detroit’s Office of Arts, Culture and Entrepreneurship and Director Rochelle Riley held a media and public event surrounding a community conversation on the topic of creating affordable spaces for Detroit artists.
Detroit ACE oversees the City of Detroit’s investment in arts, culture, and the City’s diverse and lauded creative workforce. Its priority mission is to use arts and culture as catalysts for neighborhood growth and improvement, according to a press release.
The Office of Arts, Culture, and Entrepreneurship (ACE) has contracted Artspace, a Minneapolis-based nonprofit real estate developer, to study the idea of innovative and affordable spaces for artists and creative businesses to Detroit.
“Three years ago, Mayor Mike Duggan jump-started that mission and said arts and culture is very important and it matters here in Detroit,” Riley said adding that with her job (for the past three years) is simple. “Put Detroit back on the map and elevate our creative workforce. I want to find the support and space that they need to be great so we elevate art in every way possible.”
The event, held on May 24 at the Charles H. Wright Museum, was livestreamed on the City of Detroit Facebook page, YouTube channel, and City Channel 22 and is available for viewing.
Artspace, a nonprofit arts organization, is a national leader in the field of developing affordable spaces that meet the needs of artists through the reuse of historic buildings and new construction. It has hubs operating or in development in more than 20 states, representing nearly 2,000 live/work units and millions of square feet of non-residential community and commercial space.
In Michigan, Artspace is talking of potentially bringing a work/live space in Detroit. Not a stranger to the state, it has a footprint in Dearborn with an Artspace Immersion Pilot Program for a work/live space; and in 2022 in Washtenaw County a study was done that focused on space needs and solutions in Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti.
Riley added that Dugan is focused on “lifting up and improving the lives of all Detroiters” through job training and affordable housing and caring for kids and creating all kinds of opportunities for businesses.
Artspace is looking at developing dozens of work/live spaces across the city.
“They’ve been thinking about it for a long time,” Riley said adding that Artspace representatives did a two-day tour around the city looking at vacant lots, historic sites, and other places of where potential live/workspaces could be for artists to reside.
“Here in Detroit arts and culture, music and design, history and creativity is a vital part of our identity,” she said. “Our story legacy past and future and tonight we are going to show what that future could look like when you give artists what they need.”
The goal is to create, foster, and preserve affordable and sustainable space for artists and arts and cultural organizations.
Wendy Holmes, of Artspace, said during the event that the numerous site tours (around eight) were to get a good idea of what the future could hold with this potential project.
“(This is) not necessarily to choose something at this point and time, although we hope it will work out,” Holmes said adding that the site tour was more to get a sense of the “possibilities.” “Where does it make sense to be? Where does it make sense for artists to live and to work?”
More focus groups are on tap later in the summer, along with a report of findings and recommendations in the future.
Artspace creates, owns, and operates affordable spaces for artists and creative businesses, according to their website secondwavemedia.com.
These spaces include live/work apartments for artists and their families, working artist studios, arts centers, commercial space for arts-friendly businesses, and other projects.
Artspace is the nation’s leading developer of arts facilities, developing and operating 58 projects across the country. The majority of their projects are rented at 60% Area Median Income (AMI) or less.
These facilities include:
- Live/work housing
- Artist studios
- Art centers
- Commercial spaces
For more information email DetroitACE@detroitmi.gov.