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How The Arts Are Saving Detroit

By Elizabeth R. Elstien

Once one of the wealthiest cities in the U.S., the economy of Detroit, Michigan has been struggling for decades. A summer 2013 bankruptcy filing by the city shows just how much the municipality is hurting. But help is on the way. See how those in Detroit's art scene are helping to unite the city through the arts.

Working With The DIA

Showcasing substantial works of prehistoric through contemporary art from around the world, the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) has been around for over a century moving to its current downtown-area location in 1927. Works of art from Diego Rivera, Edgar Degas, Paul Cezanne and many other well-known artists grace its more than 100 galleries. The DIA contains the largest Renaissance collection in the U.S. and is the city's "cultural gem". Recently, nine foundations offered to pay $330 million to oversee the DIA's future pending U.S. Bankruptcy court approval. The money, if approved, may be used to boost the city's pension funds.

Dancing For The Young

Living Arts Detroit runs a hip hop performance troupe for those 10 and older, as well as other dance groups. The non-profit organization works with children of all ages and adults teaching dance and movement. Realizing the arts have long-range benefits for youth, such as fostering a positive self identity and improving academics, the organization has expanded to included arts outreach to pre-Kindergarten classrooms. Began in 1999 as Southwest Dance, the original organization merged with El Arte Alliance in 2008 to help educate on movement arts. Today Living Arts Detroit has a strong presence in Southwest Detroit emphasizing "youth development and cultural enrichment" serving nearly 4,000 people.

Getting Out For The Arts

Every third Thursday evening, there are nearly 50 vibrant venues that stay open late so patrons can check out art galleries, eateries and entertainment highlighting what Detroit has to offer. View various mediums, such as sculpture, video, painting or ceramic art, while enjoying food, dance and music. One show at Live Coal Gallery was even called Hope + Detroit. While many places involved in Third Thursdays are located in Midtown and Downtown areas, there is also participating venues in the Southwest, North End, Woodbridge/Grand River, Eastern Market, Livernois, and Uptown. Visitors and residents alike get out, bring business to these Detroit venues and hobnob with art lovers, collectors and creators.

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