Skate House, Squash House, Play HouseDetroit, MI
Power House Productions (PHP) is an artist-run, neighborhood-based organization located in Detroit, Michigan. Their mission is to develop and implement creative neighborhood stabilization strategies, integrating artists’ projects and live-work spaces within the existing cultural resources of the community. What does this mean? It means that contemporary artists, architects and designers are working alongside neighborhood residents on a daily basis, demonstrating creative thinking and problem solving, new approaches and ways of thinking about issues confronting their community. It means that creative thinkers are actively engaged in the changing the trajectory of the neighborhood by working there and having conversations with neighbors, developing lasting, long term relationships and cross-cultural understanding.
Gina Reichert & Mitch Cope, Co-Directors, live in the community where they work and founded PHP. With backgrounds in architecture and studio art, they joined forces in 2007 and began thinking of their neighborhood as their studio; began approaching vacant and abandoned property as spaces for opportunity and engagement.
ARTPLACE: What is your elevator pitch when you describe your project to people?
PHP: Skate House, Squash House, and Play House will build on previous work by PHP, strategically activating vacant houses as sites for art and engagement. The goal for these project houses is to become a series of destination spots and community hubs that will be active and open on a regular basis, particularly when artists are present and working.
ARTPLACE: How do you expect to increase vibrancy in the place you are working?
PHP: The residents provide the vibrancy. We’re just providing them a space to show it off! These projects are social and active by nature; public spaces to gather, meet up, and play. These project houses will host events, performances, and create vitality simply by gathering people together and share a common experience, providing opportunities for both neighbors and visitors to meet and share ideas. Ideally, a climate of creativity will spill over and neighborhood residents will create their own projects to present in these spaces.
Over time, the houses are meant to become cultural tools and assets for the neighborhood, enriching the overall quality of life for residents; offering a positive experience for those thinking of leaving the neighborhood, and encouraging others to move in rather than out. During our time working and living in the neighborhood, we have developed an extensive network of neighborhood residents who take pride in each project and show great enthusiasm for its success and for the positive projection in the community. These allies are our best supporters and toughest critics.