Sidewalk Detroit’s neighborhood-based summer art festivals are back this year, with events in East Canfield Village and the Joy-Southfield community.
Dancing, experiential art, music, theater, and abundant collaborative creativity are mainstays of the festivals which are an anchor project of Sidewalk Detroit. The nonprofit organization, which marked its 10-year anniversary this year, celebrates Detroit culture through public art, community engagement, and advocacy.
The Sidewalk Detroit Festivals planned for July and August are set to return after the group took a break from the programming last year to reevaluate the organization’s resources and how to best serve communities, according to Augusta Morrison, senior program strategist for Sidewalk Detroit.
This year’s theme is “lush/sanctuary” and artists are encouraged to submit work through May 14 to be included at the festivals.
“Detroit is lush,” Morrison said. “I’m thinking about that in this kind of world that we’re living in that feels very hard sometimes and sharp. Can the festival experience kind of cultivate and provide a lush feeling, like relaxation? And an appreciation for what we do have, and what we have to offer here.”
The festival locations are determined by working with community partners and organizations and identifying neighborhoods that have a yearning for creative energy, but may have been disinvested in, Morrison said.
The first festival of the summer is scheduled for 2-8 p.m. July 29 at East Canfield Pavillion Art Park, 4405 Lemay Street, created by local community leaders (and sisters) Kim and Rhonda Theus of the Canfield Consortium.
Morrison said she’s looking forward to the nonprofit’s big announcement about a permanent art installation happening at the Art Park.
“It’s going to be huge, very exciting, very integrated into what already is happening with Canfield Consortium and all of their beautiful plants,” Morrison said.
The second festival will run from 4-10 p.m. Aug. 5 at a farmers market at 18900 Joy Road, across from the Joy-Southfield Community Development Corporation. It will be the nonprofit’s second time hosting a festival in partnership with the community group. Morrison said they’re also working with the CDC on a more permanent art installation for the farmers market to help elevate the space.
Moving forward, Morrison said whether the festival happens could change year to year.
“We’re going to just kind of do what feels right and what we have the money to do,” she said.
Last year, Sidewalk Detroit was one of several organizations that received money from the Ralph C. Wilson Foundation as a part of a multi-year $100 million commitment to support arts and culture in Southeast Michigan. At that time, Sidewalk Detroit received $20,000 to help pay its employees.
“In ten years we’ve grown from a community street festival built on the love, sweat and tears of family and friends to a successful creative think tank dedicated to celebrating space and advancing equity through innovative experiments across the city,” Ryan Myers-Johnson, executive director of Sidewalk Detroit, wrote in a newsletter.
Past events from the nonprofit have included a candlelight Black opera night, meditation and yoga nights in public parks, and the collaborative creation of a large art installation made of sticks collected from the overgrowth of saplings around the city at Eliza Howell Park.
“We are so proud to reflect on a decade of collaboration with hundreds of artists and community organizers, from the Eastside to the Westside,” Myers-Johnson wrote. “ It has been our privilege to collaborate and experiment with some of Detroit’s most courageous people. We look forward to another decade of growth.”
This is great news! Sidewalk Detroit’s neighborhood-based summer art festivals are back this year and it’s amazing how they celebrate Detroit culture through public art, community engagement and advocacy.
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