Midtown Detroit Inc., Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit and TechTown win $1.33 million in ArtPlace grants

Private foundations, the National Endowment for the Arts and federal partners join forces to place arts and culture at the center of economic revitalization efforts in Detroit and other U.S. cities and towns

September 15, 2011

DETROIT, Mich. Three arts and culture organizations located in Detroit's Woodward Avenue corridor will receive $1.33 million to expand their programs as part of an arts-based economic development initiative being launched in two dozen cities and towns across the nation.

ArtPlace (, a collaboration of 11 private foundations, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and seven federal agencies, announced Sept. 15 that it will award $11.5 million to 34 projects, including $900,000 to Midtown Detroit Inc. (MDI), $350,000 to the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD) and $80,000 to TechTown at Wayne State University. Recipients were selected based on the promising models they have developed to integrate artists and arts organizations into local transportation, housing, community development and job creation efforts.

ArtPlace accelerates "creative placemaking, where cities and towns are using the arts and other creative assets to shape their social, physical and economic futures," said NEA Chairman Rocco Landesman. "This approach brings new partners to the table to support the arts and recognizes the arts as vital drivers of community revitalization and development." To learn more about creative placemaking, see the 2010 NEA white paper

"Detroit continues to grow as a destination for arts, culture and a thriving creative economy," said Mayor Dave Bing. "I want to thank ArtPlace for making this investment of more than $1 million in our city. We welcome this wonderful initiative to Detroit. It is an example of the kind of public-private collaboration that ArtPlace is leading across the country."

The Ford Foundation, The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, and The Kresge Foundation are among the donors pooling resources to support the ArtPlace grants.

"We're delighted that the inaugural group of ArtPlace grants includes three projects so central to reinforcing the identity of the Woodward Avenue corridor as Detroit's cultural core," said Kresge Foundation President Rip Rapson. "These investments both build on the institutional energy growing from three extraordinary organizations-Midtown Detroit Inc., MOCAD and TechTown-and serve to further knit together the multi-sector investments-by the City of Detroit, the federal government and private foundations-that have transformed the corridor into the city's primary driver of economic development."

Midtown Detroit Inc.
MDI, a nonprofit planning and development agency working to revitalize the Woodward corridor, is comprised of more than 100 stakeholders, including Detroit's anchor educational, medical and cultural institutions.

MDI President Susan Mosey said the organization will use the ArtPlace grant to purchase a historic church building in the Sugar Hill Arts District, a neighborhood bounded by Woodward, East Forest, John R and Garfield that was a popular jazz center between 1920 and 1960. The nonprofit group has been working to develop Sugar Hill into a walkable, vibrant arts district that will incorporate art galleries, artist housing, retail shops and restaurants. MDI received an NEA Our Town grant award in 2011 to support development of an integrated public art plan for Sugar Hill.

In all, MDI and its predecessor organization, the University Cultural Center Association, have raised more than $50 million during the past 10 years for Midtown initiatives, including streetscapes, greenways, parks, community gardens, and commercial and residential developments. MDI and its philanthropic partners secured more than $22 million in loans and grants through the Living Cities Integration Initiative in 2010 to launch a comprehensive strategy to rebuild the Woodward corridor.

Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit
MOCAD, with an annual budget of about $800,000, explores emerging ideas in the contemporary arts. The museum enjoys an international reputation for its ambitious exhibitions and eclectic selection of public programs that include lectures, musical performances, films, literary readings and educational activities for children. The museum attracts 35,000 visitors a year.

The ArtPlace grant will be used to refurbish the MOCAD building, a 22,000-square-foot former auto dealership located on Woodward, a few blocks south of the Detroit Institute of Arts, Wayne State University and the College for Creative Studies, explained MOCAD Director and Chief Curator Luis Croquer. Museum leaders plan to improve internal spaces and functionality, including temperature and climate control, and create better spaces for art viewing and for staff to work.

"The museum already is energizing the Detroit community, encouraging people to discover, learn and think in new ways. MOCAD also functions as a creative meeting space for collaboration and the exchange of ideas," Croquer said. "The museum is a key part of Midtown and the Sugar Hill Arts District. The ArtPlace grant will allow us to have more ambitious programs and serve the community better."

"TechTown is thrilled to have been selected as the recipient of an inaugural ArtPlace planning grant," said TechTown Chief of Staff Meredith C. Kerekes. "By virtue of this investment we can support Detroit's creative and lifestyle community. We are optimistic that a FAB Lab concept could be transformational in building a critical mass of creative companies in Detroit and accelerating the pace of the city's economic revitalization," Kerekes stated.

TechTown was awarded the grant to test the feasibility of a FAB Lab concept in Detroit. TechTown envisions the FAB Lab to be a multi-use space that will incubate artists, startup businesses and small companies and provide a cooperative working and social environment to foster innovation and collaboration. The core FAB Lab facility would serve as a production center offering access to high-tech equipment such as 3D printers, computer-controlled machine tools, software and electronic workbenches to aid digital fabrication. The FAB Lab also would provide workshop space for artists working in more traditional mediums, such as woodworking, photography and metalworking.

TechTown spurs community and economic development through the cultivation of entrepreneurship, innovation, creativity, technology and design for entrepreneurs from all walks of life. TechTown offers unique access to Wayne State University's research,academic and technology assets, and provides the hands-on coaching and support that small business owners need to succeed. Learn more about TechTown at

ArtPlace President Carol Coletta said, "Economic development historically has been about bagging the buffalo-competing for the big employer to move operations to your city. But now we know the economic development game is all about how you deploy local assets to develop, attract and keep talent. So why would you not deploy every asset you have-including artists and the arts-to do that? That's what ArtPlace is all about."

ArtPlace initiated a second funding cycle Sept. 15. Information is available at The submission deadline is Nov. 15.

ArtPlace grants are made possible through the combined support of Bloomberg Philanthropies, The Ford Foundation, The James Irvine Foundation, The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, The Kresge Foundation, The McKnight Foundation, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The Rockefeller Foundation, Rasmuson Foundation, The Robina Foundation and an anonymous donor. In addition to the NEA, federal partners are the departments of Housing and Urban Development, Health and Human Services, Agriculture, Education and Transportation, along with leadership from the White House Office of Management and Budget and the Domestic Policy Council.

This release is distributed by ArtPlace, Midtown Detroit Inc., the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit and TechTown with technical assistance from The Kresge Foundation.