New Economy

Think you’re creative? Nah, you can’t be if you’re in Detroit

If I had a nickel for every time someone describes Detroit as “creative,” I’d rival a Wal-Mart heir. But at the moment, I’d argue the opposite.

We’re uninspired. In a lot of areas.

Here’s comes the raging pessimist in me. I look at the opportunities at our city’s feet, and I cringe at how we collectively are either ignoring, failing or plain, old goofing up the very things that Detroit has going for it. Call this The City is Slipping, Part Deux.

Karpov the Wrecked Train

Whether it is the Angry Birds-worthy demolition of what was the Detroit Science Center (yes, that again) or the lack of forethought by the city’s arts institutions in terms of programming or the lack of planning by the city, county and feds, the city isn’t capturing the audiences it should, the monies it needs or the credit it deserves.

Now, I’m not talking about you. You sweet little entrepreneurs, you art-loving loft dwellers, you lovely café owners, you coffee-making hotties. No, you are the heart and soul, the guts of this city. You deserve a massive Telaflora bouquet of gold-encrusted roses for putting up with these boobs for as long as you have. To you, I raise a toast of People Mover Porter.

As for the rest of you…Hear me out. My runaway light-rail train of thought started with a simple question a mega-watt Detroit business person posted last week on Facebook. She asked whether the Detroit Institute of Arts had any big stuff planned after the uber-successful Rembrandt and the Face of Jesus show ends next month. The answer was a resounding, “Nah, not really.” This Rembrandt show brought in tons of customers to her place, the business owner said, and it should have been following with another blockbuster.

No follow-up show that brings in massive crowds? No additional visitor-generating ideas? Nah. Creative? I don’t think so.

Then, I was trolling said art museum with the Hub’s photographer, Karpov the Wrecked Train (professional name). We were checking out the “Get in Free, Please Buy a Membership You Cheap Suburbanite” event last Sunday. There were tons of people there, pushing strollers, holding hands, drawing badly done charactertures of their kiddies in the galleries. It was a really great turnout – because there just isn’t much else to do in this city. But I digress. Karpov noted that if the DIA had a weekly event like that or a Sunday brunch every Sunday within the amazing galleries, he’d attend every time.

Karpov the Wrecked Train

So have more events! Open up lots of cool things to do! Yes! I love it! Will it happen? Probably not. It’s probably not in the budget. Or else people don’t want to come downtown. Or they don’t have the money. Creative? I think not.

Then comes the wallop of an announcement via Crain’s Detroit that the Science Center has let go of its entire staff – all five remaining of them. The Center, a trustee told Crain’s reporter Sherri Welch, is out of cash. And the joint needs $5 million to get through. ARGH! Really? Why wasn’t this addressed earlier in 2011? Why was the problem left unannounced? In this day and age, it’s better to get the bad news out there so members (like this reporter) would step up and help save the day. Nope. Those trustees and board members and executive let it close instead.

Creative? You know what I’m saying, right?

Here’s my plan for 2012. I’m going to be a bi-polar blogger, me thinks. Every other week, I’ll write something about how great some program or not-for-profit or business is. The next week, I’ll have a written temper tantrum about how things aren’t going right. Not very progressive of me, I’ll admit. But that’s the dichotomy of living in this city.

Despite my surroundings, I’ll try to be more creative next time.

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2 comments on “Think you’re creative? Nah, you can’t be if you’re in Detroit

  1. In the DIA's defense, part of what killed the Science Center was an ill-planned exhibit, The Mummies of Some Far-Flung Place. As much as I agree that we need more to culturally pull us to the city, I don't want another landmark to succumb. Maybe what you're seeing is a measured response.

    FWIW, I tried making dinner reservations for Foxtown Grille next Thursday and couldn't get in at 6:00. We switched to Angelina Bistro, but when I said I need to be to the Fox at 7:30, they recommended we come in at 5:45. There's a show at the Opera House as well, and they're going to be packed and hopping. There's still a long way to go, but it's far better than ten years ago.

  2. I agree we need more of something. I understand money,money,money.but no one is trying to bring in the money. People from our city go to other cities to enjoy the things they have.but why they don't try to enjoy what we have? WE DONT HAVE ANYTHING TO ENJOY. So what can we do ?


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