#rpDetroit Co-Curator Lauren Rossi on Detroit’s cultural scene

Lauren Rossi is a Detroit-based cultural producer and consultant for artists and artist-led organizations. As co-curator for the track “Arts & Culture” at #rpDetroit, Lauren Rossi is leading the culture programme together with Detroit artist Tiff Massey. In our interview, Lauren Rossi discusses Detroit’s way-of-life, its artistic drive and ideas on increasing access for creatives.


What’s special about the Detroit way-of-life?
The people in Detroit are everything. When you pass a stranger on the street, or wherever, you’re met with eye contact and “Hey, how you doin?” – that doesn’t exist in a lot of places. There’s hospitality here. I’ve never met anyone who’s visited Detroit for the first time and not been excited to come back. There’s a special sort of DIY mentality here too. Detroiters are unstoppable. If something needs doing, Detroiters get it done.

How would you describe Detroit’s cultural scene and current artistic drive?
The cultural scene here is expanding rapidly, along with lots of other things. There are so many more people moving to Detroit. Artists moving to Detroit to access opportunities that exist here, including relatively cheap rent that’s becoming unaffordable for people who’ve always been here. It’s complicated. There used to be a few galleries and a lot of independently run low-key art spaces, now we have more “legit” art galleries, but people still barely seem to be collecting work in Detroit. There are foundations who have been supporting the work of artists in Detroit for the last 5-10 years, which has had a huge impact on the creative community. Detroit artists have always had tremendous drive; now they’re surrounded by a lot of Detroit-based transplants who are trying to make it, or make things happen. 

What are challenges you've faced regarding access to arts & culture in Detroit?
As a person with white privilege, I have not personally faced challenges regarding access to arts & culture in Detroit. 

If you had unlimited resources, how would you want to increase access for creatives in Detroit?
I love this question. With unlimited resources I would donate funds to vastly improve all of the Detroit Public Schools, ensuring that all kids have access to top-notch facilities, education, art classes and programming, resources and opportunities. I would create affordable studios, living spaces and shared workshop facilities for artists around the city, and support art galleries, performance venues and cultural institutions in every neighborhood. I would like to fund ambitious new public art projects across the city and provide funding for artists, curators and cultural producers to support their endeavours and pursue new ideas and projects. Last but not least I would continue to provide professional development for all types of artists, but hundredfold. 

What are you hoping to see from the rpDetroit Call for Participation?
I hope that Detroit’s creative community shows up with their innovative ideas, and ideas for shared learning experiences – workshops, interactive presentations, etc that leverage the tremendous talent that exists here and challenge us to think about our future.