Christina deRoos, Kresge Arts in Detroit,
W. Kim Heron, The Kresge Foundation,



New initiatives provide artists fees and feature work across a range of creative disciplines, career stages, and perspectives


Approximately 100 Kresge Artist Fellows and winners of the Gilda Award are sharing their work through a new online website and being paid through an initiative to support artists in a time of pandemic, economic downturn and social distancing. 

In March the Kresge Foundation gave its grantees new spending flexibility to address the pandemic. The Kresge Arts in Detroit office of the College for Creative studies, which has administered more than 200 no-strings-attached grants to metro Detroit artists since 2008, has responded by reallocating funds no longer needed for events to artist fees of $150 to $500 for participation in the new initiative. 

“This is an excellent example of our grantees’ thoughtful, nimble and inspiring responses to our current crisis,” says Wendy Lewis Jackson, Detroit Program managing director. “We believe that a vibrant arts sector is a building block of a vibrant community, and there’s no question that sector rests on the opportunity for individual artists to pursue their visions. This effort helps artists when many clearly need a helping hand.” 

The initiative began with an invitation to artists to share previews of works in progress on Instagram. In order to support more opportunities for artists, and reach a broader audience, the initiative has since expanded to a new website, Kresge Arts in Detroit Presents ( 

The website is an opportunity to see new work, as well as the connections and experimentation that are central to the work of Kresge Artist Fellows, Gilda Award recipients, and the broader Detroit artist community. 

“With the flexible and generous support of The Kresge Foundation, we were able to quickly offer artist fees for existing and new work across a wide range of creative disciplines and practices,” says Kresge Arts in Detroit Director Christina deRoos. “In good times and challenging times, individual artists are critical to a thriving culture. While the core of our work remains focused on no-strings-attached awards for Detroit artists, we must do everything that we can to support individual artists during this time of exceptional need and uncertainty.’’ 

As noted in a recent survey by Americans for the Arts, artists/creatives are among the most severely affected workers by the COVID-19 crisis. For example, nationally, 62% have become fully unemployed, 95% report income loss, 80% experienced a decrease in creative work that generated income (61% “drastic decrease”), and 66% are unable to access the supplies, resources, spaces, or people necessary for their work.

Among the initiatives on view are a Work in Progress Happy Hour / Coffee Break, highlighting new ideas and unfolding works from Kresge Artist Fellows and Gilda Award recipients, and What I See, which invites artists to make new work in response to a peer’s work in progress.

Also on view are 18 short films featuring the 2019 Kresge Artist Fellows, and coming soon will be the 55-minute feature compilation, Making a Mark, which premiered in April at the virtual iteration of the 2020 Freep Film Festival.

In addition to commissioning new work and providing artist fees for previews of works in progress, Kresge Arts in Detroit is partnering with local media outlets, galleries, and venues to provide additional support for artists and the critical infrastructure that supports Detroit’s arts and culture sector.

Thus far, this has included:

  •  Retroactive stipends for Detroit writers who participated in the Metro Times “Special Pandemic Poetry and Fiction Issue”; many of the artists subsequently donated their stipends to support the fundraising efforts of the Metro Times, which is itself in dire financial difficulty because of the pandemic and downturn.
  • A partnership with Cinema Detroit to provide free snacks and beverages during the Freep Film Festival in conjunction with the Making a Mark streaming.
  • A collaboration with Detroit’s Film Lab to present Making a Mark on their streaming service.
  • A collaboration with the Detroit Free Press, commissioning new poems from Kresge Artist Fellows in response to Free Press photographer Brian Kaufman’s images of nature: “A Most Unusual Spring: Reflections in Pictures and Words.”

As Kresge Arts in Detroit finds new ways to support local artists, the office is also gearing up for the July 2 announcement of the 2020 Kresge Artist Fellows (who will receive $25,000 each) and the year’s Gilda Awardees (who will receive $5,000 each). This year’s recipient of the $50,000 Kresge Eminent Artists Award, ceramicist Marie Woo, was announced in January. 

Over the past 12 years, the program has provided over $5.6 million in direct cash support to artists working in Wayne, Macomb, and Oakland counties. 

Kresge Arts in Detroit is generously funded by The Kresge Foundation and administered by the College for Creative Studies. The goals of Kresge Arts in Detroit are to enrich the quality of life for metro Detroiters by helping artists provide a broad spectrum of cultural experiences; celebrate and reflect the richness and diversity of our community in all its aspects; heighten the profile of arts and artists in our community; and strengthen the artistic careers of local artists. Since 2008, Kresge Arts in Detroit has awarded more than $5.6 million through 12 Kresge Eminent Artist awards ($50,000 each), 198 Kresge Artist fellowships ($25,000 each), and 12 Gilda Awards ($5,000 each).

The Kresge Foundation is a private, national foundation that works to expand opportunities in America’s cities through grantmaking and social investing in arts and culture, education, environment, health, human services and community development in Detroit. Kresge’s Detroit Program collaborates with civic, nonprofit and business partners to promote long-term, equitable opportunity in Kresge’s hometown. The strategy includes place-based efforts to revitalize neighborhoods and improve the quality of life for residents; efforts to strengthen arts and culture, early childhood development, community development and other citywide systems of support; and efforts to bolster civic capacity, the ability of Detroiters to join, influence and lead the city’s renewal. 

The College for Creative Studies (CCS), located in the heart of Detroit, educates artists and designers to be leaders in the creative professions. A private, fully accredited college, CCS enrolls more than 1,400 students pursuing Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) and Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degrees. Students in the BFA program can major in Advertising Design, Communication Design, Crafts, Entertainment Arts, Fashion Accessories Design, Fine Arts, Illustration, Interior Design, Photography, Product Design, and Transportation Design, in addition to a dual major Art Education program. Students in the MFA program can major in Color and Materials Design, Interaction Design, Integrated Design, and Transportation Design. The College also offers non-credit courses in the visual arts through its Continuing and Precollege Studies programs and opportunities for youth through its Community Arts Partnerships programs.

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