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Flint, MI—For a long time, Flint and Detroit have endured and enjoyed many of the same struggles and successes. Now, organizations from both are looking to strengthen the cities’ bond through art and music.
The Detroit x Flint Creative Exchange is looking to set up connections between artists in Detroit and Flint. Over time, they hope to help them establish a steady presence in both cities through quarterly events and using spaces for creatives and business leaders.
The first event will start at 4:30 p.m. Sept. 2 inside the Ferris wheel. Following an opening reception, attendees will make their way to the Farmers Market where the Social Club’s Night Market will be in full effect. Admission is free.
The exchange was in part the brainchild of Bryce Moe, the managing director of SkyPoint Ventures, a venture capital firm. Moe lived in Flint between 2014 and 2018 and during that time, he said he was “just blown away” by the breadth of talent and diversity in art in the city. He knew he wanted to see it grow.
“Through all the craziness of the water situation … I started to see this art scene in Flint emerge. From traditional art to street and mural art and even things like Jazz Night at Soggy Bottom’s. It was just the whole spectrum …,” Moe said.
After spending years living in Flint, Moe decided to move down to Detroit after getting married. Though he still worked in Flint, he began spending more time in Detroit where he discovered an artistic and musical scene with the same spirit, drive, and diversity as Flint’s.
In Detroit, Moe began making connections with influencers and creatives like Adrian Tonon, head of the city’s film, music and nighttime activities, and Michael Reyez, a well-known artist and part of We Are Culture Creators, an organization focused on promoting young talent.
It was then that Moe realized the two cities could stand to benefit from working with and promoting each other’s creators. With the support of two Detroit giants, Moe looked to his connections in Flint and started working with Kady Yellow, a placemaker in Flint, and Tony Vu, owner of MaMang and founder of the Flint Social Club.
Moe, along with his connections in Flint and Detroit, began putting together a blueprint for what a collaboration between the two cities would look like.
“We started thinking about how we could give back as stakeholders in Flint and Detroit. How can we start to make an impact? At first we thought we could start with some basic mentoring programs and then we realized we could actually continue to scale this and create a platform for Flint creatives and Detroit creatives,” Moe said.
Eventually, the group decided on putting together a network of artists in both cities that would be regularly travelling back and forth, collaborating in each other’s spaces and being exposed to new opportunities outside of their respective cities.
Then came time to put the network together. In Flint, this would be done with the help of Yellow, who in her last year and a half as a placemaker has collaborated with local artists to organize several Flint events featuring local artists and performers.
“I have been working on curating the Flint palette,” Yellow said. “ In terms of networking opportunities, I’m identifying which Flint cultural icons should be here to meet these important figures in Detroit business, art and culture,”
Yellow said it was important for her to try and present an authentic Flint experience at the exchange. She did this by tracking down artists from Flint who have spent their whole lives in the city.
“I’m adamant about making sure the representation of Flint is authentic,” Yellow said.
In Detroit, Reyes was tasked with a similar responsibility.
“We’re doing basically an artists exchange with 30 Detroit-based curators, artist and performers. We’re going to be visiting a series of venues in Flint and meeting with creatives from the Flint community and seeing where there is some synergy. We’re hoping that we’ll be able to match some of the energy in Flint with some of the partners we have in Detroit,” Reyes said.