Art and culture have become so crucial to a bold new narrative being
written about 21st century Detroit that Jenenne Whitfield, executive
director of the world famous Heidelberg Project, says she has a new way
of explaining it to people.
"Do you mind if I get philosophical?" Whitfield says as we talk about the Heidelberg's upcoming Dancin' On The Street (DOTS)
festival this Saturday. By all means, do. "It's spreading like a
positive epidemic. You can now actually see and feel the resurgence in
the city, and it's being led by artists."
We couldn't agree more. Please go on.
100 years a city has to reinvent itself. Detroit has been dominated by
industry (for the past century), now the landscape has opened up and is
being reshaped by people doing it from the grass roots."
naturally points to the success of Tyree Guyton's Heidelberg Project as
a source of the epidemic. In the 1990s, the project so bedeviled city
officials that they attempted to have it demolished -- on several
occasions. At the same time, international art critics and scholars were
calling the installation a work of inspiration and raw genius. Guyton
traveled the world with pieces of the living exhibition, while lawyers
battled over its right to exist at home.
Art, culture, community
and neighborhood engagement won that fight. Local institutions like the
Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History and the Detroit
Symphony Orchestra -- and a long list of others -- have championed the
project and are partners and sponsors of this weekend's event.
now realize that Detroit's contribution to art and culture is its
rawness and authenticity," Whitfield says. "We've been getting national
and global attention for all the right reasons. Now, we're seeing more
cooperation and interest on the local level. We've had great response
from artists, sponsors and partners for this biennial event."
Dancin' On The Street features
eight hours of music from the Sun Messengers (with special guest Marcus
Belgrave), a DSO quartet and salsa, hip hop, techno artists. There will
be Japanese drumming, break dancing and fire art. The festival
celebrates the diversity in the city with music, dance and a Taste of
Detroit food stations, including Oslo, El Barzon, Wah-Hoo, Creole Gumbo
and Floyd's BBQ. A Children's Corner features games, face-painting, magicians and other surprises for youngsters.
best saved for last comes at 7:30 p.m., when all festival-goers are
invited to get up and dance the Michael Jackson Thriller down Heidelberg
Street, with coordination and direction from the Zone Dance Center.
The Heidelberg Project, a 24-year old nonprofit organization, is designed
to improve lives and neighborhoods through art, and is the third
most-visited cultural site in Detroit.
Half-price parking for
festivalgoers is provided by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, available
at the Max M. Fisher Music Center with shuttle service by Royal
Transportation to and from the event. Go here
for shuttle times and the performance schedule.
Dancin' On The Street is Saturday, Aug. 14, noon - 8 p.m. The Heidelberg Project is at 3600 Heidelberg St. on Detroit's East Side.
Walter Wasacz is FilterD editor for Model D. Send feedback here.