In Detroit, art and culture can be seen across the city. But, there are ways these treasures can be spread farther while supporting creatives living in different communities. That is what the new Arts, Culture and Entrepreneurship Office hopes to achieve. 

In February, Mayor Mike Duggan and Director of Arts and Culture Rochelle Riley announced the creation of the city’s ACE Office.

“I am going to focus on growing Detroit’s investments on the arts and culture in the community,” Riley said. “The goal of the office is to help artists reach their goals and to make sure they can make a living doing what they do.”

To achieve these goals, the ACE Office will use a “three-pronged” strategy, Riley said. One strategy will use art and culture to serve as a catalyst for neighborhood growth. A different strategy will implement entrepreneurial and educational programs through new and existing partnerships. 

“We want to return to a time where every Detroit child had access to art and music,” Riley said. “Then the third thing is to work on a campaign to not just let the world know — because a lot of the world already knows — but let the people in our city and Michigan know just how vibrant and world-class our talent is.” 

Under a new arts fund, there will be tax-deductible donations to help the arts, Riley said. The first budget plan of 2021 was submitted as the coronavirus pandemic began to impact Detroit. How the office looks to raise funds for artists is difficult during this time. 

According to the ACE Office’s website, the organization is hard at work trying to find emergency relief for workers who may not qualify for small-business relief funds. 

“My office is working with several folks to try and figure out the best way we can find some emergency relief funding for artists because independent contractors are not always covered by small businesses, and artists need help too,” Riley said.  

The city spent almost a year researching to create the ACE Office, Riley said. The preliminary work for this office included interviewing artists, looking at other cities’ offices and speaking with communities about what’s needed to support arts and culture. 

For people in the community to experience art wherever they live, the ACE Office is planning neighborhood art houses and cultural centers, Riley said. 

“When you bring arts to a vicinity, it helps to improve and give that neighborhood some newly founded energy. These houses could have youth programs as well as workshops for adults,” WSU professor of painting and drawing Melvin Rosas said. 

According to Riley, the office wants every artist to know how to value their work, whether it's their performances, talent or products they make.

“Our students should be excited about this investment,”  WSU Innovation Studio Director Jenifer Daniels said.

Daniels has met many WSU art entrepreneurs selling their creations at the Winter Arts and Retail Market during Noel Night and TechTown’s pop-up shops.  

“Their (students) creativity should be invested in, and this program from the city of Detroit is a great first step,” Daniels said.

More information on the ACE Office, artist relief funds and microgrants can be found here.


Grace Reyes is a contributing writer for The South End. Grace can be reached at gracereyes@wayne.edu.

Photos by Fernanda Manzanares