Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit

Funding Received: 2011
Detroit, MI
Funding Period: 1 year and 5 months
May 18, 2012

MOCAD, founded in 2006, is a significant anchor for the developing Sugar Hill Arts District, attracting young audiences and international attention with its exhibitions program. ArtPlace funding is enabling MOCAD to upgrade its interior spaces and eventually develop the surrounding area as an outdoor arts venue, improving its street presence and providing a link between area greenways and a proposed light rail line along Woodward Avenue.

ArtPlace asked Kelli B Kavanaugh, MOCAD's Director of Development + External Affairs
to share her most effective strategies for attracting the attention of people who matter. Here is her reply:

In answering this question, first we must consider determining just who it is that matters, as patrons, visitors, artists and funders must all be considered. As with many things, balance is the end game.

Patrons and visitors can certainly be attracted by adhering to our mission of exhibiting art at the forefront of contemporary culture. A mix of quality public programs that appeal to a diverse crowd and a range of exhibitions from obscure to populist can stretch boundaries while still drawing crowds.

Artists from both near and far should be nurtured by MOCAD. When exhibitions that draw from outside Detroit are on display, we certainly make an effort to host conversations and workshops do appeal to and hopefully benefit the local art community, while bolstering the talent working from some distance. This perspective is a boon to creativity on both ends.

One of our current exhibitions on display, Post-Industrial Complex, was sourced from an open call for entries, which is a new process for MOCAD and is reflective of the institution’s push toward more direct, unmediated engagement with the community. More than 200 local individuals responded to MOCAD’s request for works of all type by makers, inventors, problem solvers, fabricators, modifiers, creators, builders, conjurers, producers, scientists, storytellers, myth-makers, urban legends, tinkerers, visionaries & hobbyists. A dozen were selected to exhibit, many of whom have never shown in a gallery before, let alone reflected on their toiling as art-making.
The objectives of funders have been developed thoughtfully and their goals must be considered and respected; however, crafting a program based solely on the needs of a funder in order to secure financial support has the potential of weakening core values. Instead, MOCAD seeks out funders whose goals fall in line with the institution’s mission. This too should be considered a creative collaboration.

It is the hope of MOCAD that, by carefully walking a fine line, we can appeal to everyone that “matters.”

PHOTO: Opening Reception of MOCAD's Post-Industrial Complexexhibit. Photo by Kottie Gaydos