The Detroit Institute of Arts is widely regarded as a top ten museum in the United States, containing 66,000 pieces of work worth over $8.1 billion housed in 658,000 square feet and more than 100 galleries. The downtown theatre district is regarded by some as the second largest district of its kind in the country and it could be argued that no other American city has contributed as much to music as Motown has.
With the stereotypical “starving artist” being priced out of New York City, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Washington, DC., the Motor City is seeing an influx of creative types hoping to thrive in a city heavy on grit and low on cost. The question is, why aren’t we embracing them?
Organizations like Lost Reality Music are leading grassroots efforts to support the arts. Their current $10,000 Trap Music Contest and artist promotion seeks to empower local musicians and provide tools they need to succeed.
Most cities around the world have some sort of artist residency community where masters of their crafts can live, create, and influence. The epitome of such a collective is the Westbeth Artists Community in Manhattan’s West Village neighborhood which in its prime housed names like Karl Bissinger, Gil Evans, and Robert De Niro Sr.
The city of Detroit has residency programs like 555, Popps Packing, and Spread Art but nothing even comes close to the collaborative energy of a community like Westbeth. As far as expenses go, Detroit may not actually be all that much cheaper than New York City in the long run, as one Detroit-based artist writes. The Detroit billionaires rebuilding the city’s corporate landscape should patronize artists in the Renaissance City in the same way the Medici family supported artists of the Renaissance.
Establishing a non-profit artist residency community in the city of Detroit would be a huge move and would provide much-needed assistance to the men and women installing sculptures in Midtown, painting murals in Eastern Market, and recording music in Corktown.