Detroit's first permanent studio-gallery for artists with disabilities starts crowdfunding campaign

What’s happening: The nascent arts and cultural district planned around the Lantern development in East Village has its anchor tenants lined up, and now one of those tenants, Progressive Art Studio Collective (PASC), has been accepted into a statewide placemaking initiative that organizers hope will provide the funds necessary to help complete the project. A successful crowdfunding campaign would result in what’s believed to be Detroit’s first and only permanent public gallery and studio for adult artists with disabilities.

What it is: PASC plans a fully ADA-accessible gallery and studio for artists with developmental disabilities and mental health differences, where the artists can not only create and display their work but earn income from it, too. The planned build-out includes professional gallery and studio space that follows universal design principles, as well as two ADA-accessible bathrooms and a kitchen. Professional and visiting artists will provide mentorship and guidance, and public event programming is planned.

Proposed rendering of entrance to the LANTERN, with PASC on bottom left. (Copyright OMA and Luxigon)

Who’s behind it: PASC was first launched in 2021 by Services To Enhance Potential (STEP), a nonprofit organization serving those with disabilities and mental health needs in Macomb and Wayne counties. The PASC program currently has studios in Detroit, Southgate, and Westland, and the Lantern location would serve as both studio and gallery as well as program headquarters.

Where it’s going: The Lantern development will transform a vacant 22,300 sq. ft. building on Kercheval into a mixed-use arts campus, including artist-centered studios, gallery, and retail. Its anchor tenants will include PASC and Signal-Return, the community letterpress printshop currently located in Eastern Market. The development is led by Library Street Collective co-founders Anthony and JJ Curis.

How they’re doing it: PASC has been accepted into the Michigan Economic Development Corporation’s Public Spaces Community Places initiative. Should PASC successfully raise $50,000 through a crowdfunding campaign by Saturday, Aug. 5, the MEDC will provide a $50,000 matching grant.

The campaign is hosted on the Michigan-based Patronicity platform, which is available online.

Why it’s important: “Receiving the MEDC Public Spaces Community Places grant will be transformational for STEP in helping our PASC program develop the first permanent public gallery and studio for artists with disabilities in Detroit,” says Brent Mikulski, President and CEO of Services to Enhance Potential (STEP). “Not only does MEDC’s endorsement encourage the Detroit community and beyond to invest in us, but more importantly it represents a faith and a commitment in the power and reach of our program to foster disabled artists into professional art careers, become a nexus for the Detroit disabled art community, and generate a more inclusive art world.”

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MJ Galbraith is Model D's development news editor. Follow him on Twitter @mikegalbraith.