Artists cast their gaze on Detroit
BY ALEXUS BOMAR
OU News Bureau
Cultural institutions and creative industries have played a critical part in bringing the people of Detroit closer.
According to a report by Creative Many, an organization focused on the culture and design economy in Michigan, creative industries in Michigan contribute to the growth of communities and the economy along with providing tools and education for youth to become strong leaders and innovators.
Mark Stryker, Detroit Free Press arts & culture reporter and critic, has been in the business for 20 years and has seen the impact that cultural institutions have had on Detroit.
“The arts is one of our greatest assets, and it’s just as important as sports and public safety,” he said.
Stryker added, “Culture is fundamental to the future of Detroit because it draws economic development, attracts residents and entrepreneurs, and creates an environment where people want to work and play.”
Approximately 180 arts and cultural organizations in Michigan were formed for the purpose of developing and promoting the work of artists in visual and performing art forms, according to the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs.
“There is such a groundswell of people and organizations that are really seeing the opportunity to bring people together and to make Detroit an even more vibrant place by using the arts,” said Kathryn Dimond, Culture Source’s advocacy & program strategist. Culture Source is a member association for nonprofit art and cultural organizations to help develop a diverse community in southeastern Michigan.
Art helps to create a space for people to discuss any topics and can also bring people together regardless of their race, ethnicity or background. Without the arts, many believe that the community would not be as vibrant as it is now.
Supporters of the arts are concerned that President Donald Trump is considering cutting funding for arts and humanity agencies.
If the funds were cut, Dimond believes, “The impact would be detrimental to society because we see that the arts play a huge role in the society and how people can come together in any circumstances.”
“An investment in cultural organizations will bring people in town together along with bringing more people to town,” said Margarite Fourcroy, Michigan Opera House’s chief patron officer.
The New York Times and other news organizations reported that Trump may have plans to eliminate both the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, along with privatizing the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
These organizations make up .016 percent of the U.S budget, which is about $4.6 trillion.
Dimond said the NEA funds programs for the Detroit Institute of Arts and the Mosaic Youth Theatre while the NEH funds programs from colleges and universities to conduct research.
“When people start looking at what it funds, that’s when you start realizing the impact that it would have,” Dimond said.
Stryker, Fourcroy and Dimond said arts should continue to be funded — especially in schools — because students can develop a creative way of thinking and gain cultural understanding.
“It’s an investment in our youth and that they deserve quality arts education,” Stryker said.
Because of the art programs here and the potential to grow, Detroit has become a place where musicians and artists of any background come to showcase their talents.
According to The New York Times, artists from New York come to Detroit to take advantage of “Detroit’s deep and rich cultural history” and the opportunity to grow as an artist.
Philip Kafta, one of the artists in the article, believes that a person can find their purpose in Detroit and that it has become almost impossible to do in New York.
Within Detroit, there are empty industrial spaces, community-focused projects and design opportunities where artists can express themselves.
Fourcroy said there is a strong correlation between exposure to arts as a child and participation in arts as an adult.
Taking an art or music class in elementary, middle or high school can help to give a person exposure to something new and can help give that student an understanding of different cultures.
“Detroit is a hot place for emerging artists to move to,” she said.
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