Annual glassblowing event at Russell Industrial blends art, education -- and sizzle

A local arts nonprofit is on a mission to help children embrace the world of art, and they’re doing it in the most electrifying way possible.

Detroit is set to sizzle with creativity as The Michigan Glass Project gears up for its 10th annual glassblowing and live arts festival, taking place from Friday, June 21 to Sunday, June 23, 2023, at the historic Russell Industrial Center in Eastern Market. The event promises a vibrant celebration of artistry, featuring local and national glassblowers, live painters, and an eclectic lineup of musicians, all while supporting a cause dedicated to enriching children's lives through art.

The Michigan Glass Project has become a beacon of creative philanthropy, raising funds for Art Road Nonprofit to bring art education to Metro Detroit students. Their mission is to unite artists through charitable events that foster community change. Over the past seven years, the festival has donated $525,000 to Art Road, significantly expanding its impact.

Art Road Nonprofit aims to ensure children across Southeastern Michigan have access to art instruction. Since 2004, they have reintroduced art classes to over 21,000 students in the Detroit Public Schools Community District, enriching their educational experience.

The Michigan Glass Project began in 2012, inspired by a similar event.

"We started back in 2012, kind of passed along the format from a friend who used to hold the Colorado project out in Denver," says Allison Key, share Co-founder and Executive Director of The Michigan Glass Project. “

The idea was simple: Gather glassblowing friends, create art, and sell it for a common purpose.

"Our first event was about raising money for the Belle Isle Aquarium. We rented a building in Eastern Market and just had a party."

Over the past ten years, the festival has grown significantly in size and scope. Initially held in smaller venues, it quickly outgrew its early locations and moved to the larger Expo Center. The festival's growth also saw a shift in its beneficiaries.

"In 2015, we started raising money for Art Road Nonprofit, which puts art classes back in Detroit public schools. This shift to an art-focused cause grabbed more attention from glass artists nationwide," Key said.

Glassblowing artists from across the nation, along with visual artists and painters, will be showcasing their talents live all weekend. They will craft hundreds of unique pieces for two silent auctions, which will conclude at 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. on Sunday. Attendees can witness the creative process and bid on their favorites. The highlight on Sunday night will be an exciting live auction on stage, featuring a curated selection of standout artworks made or contributed during the event. In addition to the silent auctions, an art gallery will exhibit paintings, photographs, and prints. Proceeds from artwork sales, auctions, and raffles will directly support the fundraiser's cause.

"Our real big vision is to create a space for artists to give back easily,” she noted. “Just by buying a ticket or participating in the silent auction, attendees are supporting a greater cause.”

The event is open to the public, offering a festive atmosphere with cuisine from local food trucks and a cash bar. Ticket and bar sales will also benefit the cause. Attendees can enjoy the signature Catwalk DJ booth featuring some of Detroit’s best turntable talents, alongside the Main and Art House Stages, which will host live local and national music acts, headlined by The Motet, Honeycomb, David McMurray Quartet, and many others. This year will also feature a tie-dye demonstration area. World-renowned glassblowing artists and live muralists will also return to participate, making it a space to celebrate art and community.

She added, "It's like our MGP Christmas. Everyone is excited, and it's the pinnacle of the weekend."

For more information, visit and Tickets are available at the door and
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