EDITOR'S NOTE: Richland Source’s Rising from Rust team traveled to Detroit, Michigan from Oct. 28 to 30 for CityLab Detroit, a summit organized by the Aspen Institute, The Atlantic, and Bloomberg Philanthropies. The story below relates to one of the sessions at that convention.
DETROIT – In a time where the “most mobile people” choose where to live based on place, not job opportunity, Detroit, Michigan has some competition.
So does New York City, Los Angeles, Columbus and of course, (comparatively) little Mansfield, Ohio.
A whopping 64 percent of college-educated 25-to 34-year-olds choose the city they want to live in before looking for a job, according to a June 2017 article titled “Do People Really Move for Better Cities?” on Livability.com.
This spells bad news for any place, small or large, that isn’t effectively telling its own story.
jessica Care moore, a Detroit-based poet and performance artist believes there’s a partnership that be further explored between artists and the cities where they live. She explained her idea in front of hundreds of mayors and other city leaders in a session called "The Power of the Arts” at CityLab Detroit.
"You can't build a city without artists," moore said. "If you want a city to be talked about on a global stage, then you need people like me: artists who paint, draw, and write, who come from cities that they are very proud of, to represent.”
While living and working in New York City, moore – who does indeed write her name in lowercase – would often make a point to say, “I’m from Detroit.” It was something like a mantra to her. And she’d correct people when they got it wrong.
moore has traveled all of the world, but Detroit is the city that molded her, shaped her and ultimately made her. The art she creates reflects this.
She started her session by reciting a poem about the city and ended with another. Further, she shared how the Knight Foundation provided financial support for her to write a techno ballet on Detroit’s future. The piece about the city in 2071 will open in June 2019.
Art costs money, but it’s vital to the future of cities, moore explained.
She suggested a Bureau of Cultural Affairs, as she’s seen in other cities. The entity could promote and financial support artists who could draw others to the city through their work, or act as ambassadors for the city.
“It’s the artists that actually represent the heartbeat, the sole of the city … to not include them … it’s a disservice to the city,” she said.
The City of Detroit does not currently have a Bureau of Cultural Affairs, but moore says she's conversed with the mayor and other city leadership about the notion.
In the meantime, moore has partnered with organizations like the Detroit Public Library to support the arts through events like a poetry slam competition.