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Development News

ArtPlace grants spur localism in Midtown

Major grants to several of Midtown's leaders in creative development, including MOCAD and Tech Town, will use art as an engine for economic growth and local place-making.

MOCAD's $350,000 grant from ArtPlace America, a groundbreaking collaboration of 11 foundations, seven federal agencies and the National Endowment of the Arts, will help renovate the museum's internal offices and public exhibition spaces. Over at Tech Town, the new FAB Lab, which received $90,000 in support from ArtPlace, will offer creatives shared access to specialized and expensive equipment, like 3-D printers, computer-controlled machine tools, industry-leading software and electronic workbenches. Another element is workshop space for the city's roster of woodworkers, photographers and metalsmiths.

Local economic development can come in many forms: more visitors, more spending, more investment, more development, improved brand, more jobs, more income, more jobs for artists, more income for artists," says Carol Coletta, president of ArtPlace. "MOCAD develops local talent by expanding their exposure to art and art buyers, among the other benefits named above. Tech Town is specifically designed to explore how local artists can be supported in the development of their businesses and practices."

Coletta says economic development is traditionally oriented around what she calls "bagging the buffalo" -- that is, securing a big-name employer to move central operations or factories to a city. ArtPlace believes that attracting and retaining local talent is the result of deploying local assets, particularly the arts. Midtown Detroit's significance as a creative corridor and hub for economic activity made locating three ArtPlace grants, worth $1.8 million, within a relatively small district.

"Until you get enough intensity in the area, it is hard to support great places," Coletta says. "That’s why it makes sense to focus so many efforts on one location in Detroit. Then its success can spill over into other areas."

Source: Carol Coletta, president, ArtPlace America
Writer: Ashley C. Woods
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