Creativity Connects Michigan in March

Creative Many Michigan filled the month of March with opportunities for creative people to connect and create the spark for collaboration. The movement to champion Michigan’s creative economy continues. In 2014, the Michigan creative industries totaled almost 89,000 people earning nearly $5B of wages from over 10,000 establishments. Creative Many is dedicated to developing creative people and places where Michigan can come together to create, collaborate and compete.

Whether you were fighting for the future of the arts on Capitol Hill, in the Michigan House at SXSW, in France celebrating the Detroit City of Design, or creating community in your back yard — we are eager to add your voice to the Creative Many in our state.

Here’s recap of where we’ve been in March…

The Future of American Arts and Culture

Create the Spark

In March, Creative Many joined more than 700 advocates from across the nation for Arts Advocacy Day in Washington, D.C. Just days before arriving, the Trump administration announced their budget which called for the complete elimination of funding for  the National Endowment of the
Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, as well as the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the Institute for Museum and Library Services. Advocates arrived in D.C. just in time, pouring into legislative offices on Capitol Hill to share the importance of the arts — not only on the lives of individuals, but to the health and vitality of our communities, education of children and our identity as a nation.

In addition, we are proud champions of the CREATE Act, a federal law presented by Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (D-MI) and Senator Tom Udall (D-NM). The act, titled “Comprehensive Resources for Entrepreneurs in the Arts to Transform the Economy,” lays out a plan to increase resources for artists and accelerate business growth in the creative sector. The legislation calls for exploration of an artist corps, similar to AmeriCorps, and targeted investments by the U.S. Small Business Administration on artist businesses.

Over the past 10 months, we’ve worked closely with the Michigan Department of Education, Michigan’s SP3 team, advocates and other organizations to ensure arts education is a component of the final Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) plan. The final plan is now in the hands of Governor Snyder for review and is expected to be delivered to the U.S. Department of Education in the coming weeks. was shared with Governor Snyder this month, and has been approved to share with the U.S. Department of Education. Thanks to the hundred of advocates who raised their voices over the past year. Arts education is listed as a key component in the final ESSA plan of a ‘well-rounded’ education for all children.

See our active advocacy campaigns and how you can get involved to raise the voice for the arts in Michigan, and sign the petition to #SavetheNEA today. Check out our Facebook page for photos from Arts Advocacy Day in Washington, D.C.

Arts Advocacy Day in Washington, DC with Russ Collins, Deb Polich and Sarah Gonzalez Triplett (left to right) 


Michiganders Meet in Austin at SXSW

A full Michigan House hosts a series of dynamic dialogues at SXSW / photo by Shutter Sam Photography

Mayors Bliss and Adler discuss the affordable housing crisis / photo by Shutter Sam Photography


Flint Eastwood of Detroit at Michigan House music showcase / photo by Shutter Sam Photography

A collective from throughout Michigan headed down to Austin, Texas for the third iteration of Michigan House at SXSW. More than 24 speakers convened across six panel discussions focused on the history of design in Michigan, the growing opportunity for creative professionals and educators in our state, and the need to lead with equity for a stronger, more sustainable future. The team at Middle West Creative transformed the gymnasium at St. David’s Church into a spacious and cozy escape from the busy streets of Austin.

Thanks to the generous support from dozens of Michigan House sponsors, the power of our creative industries was shared with people from around the world — strengthening connections between old and new friends and neighbors at this home away from home. Highlights include Grand Rapids Mayor Roslyn Bliss, along with Darel Ross of Start Garden, hosting a Michigan House conversation with Austin Mayor Steve Adler on the role of private and public partnerships to address the affordable housing crisis in both cities, in addition to investments for the arts and culture which drive attraction. An impressive

collection of Michigan-based bands rounded out the four-day event with a tap takeover by Founders Brewing Co. at Stay Gold lounge for an evening of music and conversation — check out the 2017 Michigan House mixtape on SoundCloud.

See the Creative Many Facebook album to view all the photos from Michigan House, as well as videos from Art Prize of the panel discussions and music showcase. And of course, the Michigan House Facebook or Instagram for videos from the event.

French Exhibition Hosts ‘Detroit City of Design’ as Guest of Honor

ShiftSpace cafe custom built for Saint-Étienne, France / photo by Anne Laure Lechat

From Akoaki Studio’s ‘Out of Site’ exhibit / photo by Anne Laure Lechat

‘Footwork’ exhibit by DC3 in collaboration with the Public Design Trust and The Work Department / photo by Anne Laure Lechat

Starting March 9, Detroit is the featured guest of honor in Saint-Étienne, France at the month-long Design Biennale as the first and only UNESCO City of Design in the United States. Work by a contingent of over 40 Detroit designers, artists, organizations and curators is showcased in the festival, including three separate but related exhibitions. As steward of the UNESCO designation, Detroit Creative Corridor Center (DC3) has led work to include Detroit in a worldwide network of cities committed to investing in creativity as a driver for sustainable urban development, social inclusion, and cultural vibrancy. Read more from DC3 about the designation and the innovation being spurred on in Detroit through design.

This 10th edition of the Saint-Étienne Design Biennale explored themes around the future of work and shifting work paradigms. Inspired during a visit to Detroit, representatives from the Biennale invited Creative Many to curate a café and co-working space for intimate dialogues. The café, named the ShiftSpace, was designed by Detroit architecture firm Laavu and housed original artwork, products, and delicacies that represent the Motor City today. Our Director of Creative Industries, Cézanne Charles curated a series of panel discussions titled “Universal Basic” exploring how the interconnected sectors of design, technology, politics and economics are able to produce results that benefit everyone. As the world becomes increasingly more automated and digitized, the ShiftSpace invited attendees to adopt a curiosity and speculative vision about tomorrow’s world of work.

Our partners at Akoaki studio presented the Out of Site exhibition — showcasing Detroiters who reimagine ways they live and work through radically collaborative processes and a focus on locally rooted cultural activity. The exhibit included performances by the Detroit Afrikan Music Institution. DC3 presents the “Footwork” exhibit, curated by Public Design Trust with support from The Work Department, which explores unconventional collaborations among Detroit’s corporate, grassroots, and civic design community.

Many thanks to the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation for their support of Detroit’s presence at the biennale, including ShiftSpace, Out of Site and Footwork. For a full picture of our time in Saint-Étienne, see the Creative Many Facebook album.

What’s Next: Collaboration Is Key

If March has taught us anything, it is the power of creativity to connect people across communities, throughout a state, around the country and the world.

Collaboration is key as we design a future that benefits everyone and strengthens Michigan’s economy. We know the voices of the Creative Many — working together at the same table — will be required to make it happen.

We invite you to join the Creative Many through our membership enrollment and sign up for our mailing list to keep up with the creative community in Michigan.

Photo by Shutter Sam Photography