Innovation, creativity and art take over the streets of Detroit

arts / Article

September 21, 2014 by Katy Locker


A projection shines upon the Detroit Public Library during Dlectricity 2012. Photo by the Kresge Foundation on Flickr

This is a big week in Detroit and a great week for several Knight Foundation-sponsored events.  It is a week to celebrate the creative and innovative elements of Detroit’s growth and revitalization—and to have fun.

The Detroit Design Festival returns for its fourth year, beginning with a kick-off party on Tuesday evening and closing with Light Up Livernois on Sunday. The festival is a celebration of Detroit’s role as a global center of design and creativity, with over 500 designers, 25,000 attendees and 30 “Design Happenings.” One of the great parts of the Detroit Design Festival is its mix of national and “big” events and ideas with locally inspired happenings. My favorite part is always Eastern Market After Dark (presented Thursday night).  Expect 20-plus studios, shops and design happenings in Detroit’s historic and eclectic Eastern Market district. The entire schedule can be found here.

This year, the Detroit Design Festival coordinated with the organizers of Dlectricity, a two-night festival of art + light. Thirty-five international, national and local artists will illuminate the Woodward Corridor Friday and Saturday nights, from the Detroit Institute of Arts to the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, with cutting-edge installations of light, video, performance, interactive engineering and other unexpected works of art. Dlectricity was an inaugural winner last year of Knight Arts Challenge Detroit. Two years ago, despite the rain, these were two of the most magical nights I’ve ever seen in Detroit. And Dlectricity mixes big and small, national and local too. As Detroit builds its momentum as a bike city, the Saturday night Dlectricity Light Bike Parade will rival Detroit’s own Slow Roll. The schedule for Dlectricity can be found here.

As Knight Foundation watched the planning for the Detroit Design Festival and Dlectricity come together, we wanted to be sure that the city could take advantage of these events to also showcase Detroit’s unique role in urban innovation. Our partners at Urban Innovation Exchange accepted our challenge to bring innovators from across the region, state and country to see the Detroit Design Festival and Dlectricity and to exchange their own ideas and innovation. As a result, the Urban Innovation Exchange September 2014 event was born; several hundred people will come together for these dialogues and events that are supplements to the festival and Dlectricity.  Conversations about the art of place, the future of food, the maker movement and much more are planned. The schedule for Urban Innovation Exchange can be found here.

We’re proud to be supporting each of these events and pleased that Knight Foundation President Alberto Ibargüen and Knight Foundation Vice President for Community and National Initiatives Carol Coletta will be part of the action. The two will have a public conversation about designing cities to accelerate talent, opportunity and engagement on Friday, Sept. 26, as part of both the Detroit Festival and Urban Innovation Exchange. We hope you’ll join us for this conversation.

After we’re done celebrating these great Detroit events, we’ll take a breath, and get ready to celebrate the announcement of the next round of Knight Arts Challenge winners. Stay tuned for Oct. 6! And watch for more information about opportunities online and in Detroit to answer questions about the Knight Cities Challenge, a $5 million challenge to uncover innovative ideas to make our cities more successful. Entries will be accepted from Oct. 1 to Nov. 14. 

I hope to see you out and about on the streets of Detroit this week. It’s going to be a great one!

Katy Locker is the Detroit program director at Knight Foundation. 

To learn more about the Knight Cities Challenge, join us for virtual office hours:

·      Oct. 1 from 3 to 4 p.m.: For best quality, use this link to connect via your Web browser(please confirm and allow plugin installation at prompt), or connect via telephone by calling 1-888-240-2560 and entering meeting ID 448711858.

·      Oct. 14 from 3 to 4 p.m.: For best quality, use this link to connect via your Web browser(please confirm and allow plugin installation at prompt), or connect via telephone by calling 1-888-240-2560 and entering meeting ID 829368066.

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