Good News for Detroit Arts and for Cultural Orgs in General

Not sure when the last time the words “good news” and “Detroit” were used in the same sentence, but according to the Detroit Free Press, the Erb Family Foundation of Birmingham has recently announced $1.6 million in grants to 35 local arts organizations, “ranging from $100,000 to the Detroit Institute of Arts to $10,000 to grass-roots groups like the Rackham Symphony Choir.”

The $100-million foundation (with the money coming from the lumber business) is still in its first year, and has already given away $3.5 million to “nurture what its calls environmentally healthy and culturally vibrant communities in metro Detroit.”

This obviously isn’t going to fix Detroit’s woes—what could?—but it is an interesting step in the right direction. And maybe by helping foster a creative community, Detroit can start reshaping itself . . .

And although that sounds super unlikely, Razia Iqbal of the BBC provides a bit of factual hope:

Recent research from the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (Nesta) suggests that the cultural sector will grow by 4% between 2009 and 2013 – double the estimate for the rest of the economy.

There are parts of this sector which are clearly feeling the effects of the recession, such as architecture and advertising. But others, like the video games industry, are burgeoning. [. . .]

I’ve been talking to Lord Puttnam about this and he is a passionate advocate of investing in the creative industries. He thinks they are where young people want to work and argues that the government dismisses their potential at its peril. This goes to the heart of an argument that historically presents the arts community as whingeing luvvies. In fact, the reality is that the creative industries will by 2013 employ 1.3 million people and the wealth generated by these industries could reach £85 billion. It is the economic case for the arts that those in the creative industries need to make.

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