Explore Local Culture with Detroit Passport to the Arts

By: Scott Davis | October 23, 2014

Chances are high you’ve noticed Detroit has a lot to offer in terms of art, culture and performing. All you have to do is drive anywhere downtown to notice all of the street art, theaters, graffiti art, institutes and more.

Have you ever wanted to take a tour of the city just to witness the variety of arts the Motor City has to offer, but you weren’t sure how to do it? Where there is a will there is a way. The Detroit Passport to the Arts takes you on six destinations, with the current session running from the beginning of November until June of 2015. Each destination is at a different type of performing arts venue, including symphony, dance, opera, film, theater/drama and chamber music.

“A number of art programs were having problems attracting young audiences,” Margo Strebig, director of Detroit Passport to the Arts, said. “We needed to come up with a strategic way to reach out to the younger generation and encourage them to become art patrons or even donors.”

The program is a part of three local nonprofit organizations: Detroit Chamber Wind and Strings, Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival and Eisenhower Dance.

DP2A’s goal is to reach an audience that isn’t particularly known for being art connoisseurs, an audience it has identified as those 45 years old and younger. Now in its sixth season, DP2A has had tremendous success.

“The program has been very successful in attracting next generation arts supporters,” Amanda Bankston, public relations and patron engagement associate of the Detroit Wind and Strings, said. “For the first three years of the program, there was no targeted age; so much of the audience we attracted looked more like traditional audiences. When we officially created an age limitation and defined ‘next generation’ as people ages 45 and under, we started to see more success.”

Bankston went on to say that the average age of season five passport holders was 33 years old. Obviously, that is well within the target range.

The reason the program is so adamant about attracting younger folks is because the organization believes everybody should be exposed to the beauty and culture of arts. Purchasing the passport gives you the chance to experience something you may not have the chance to experience without it.

“There are so many options in the arts close to us and easily accessible, but we understand there are barriers that may keep people away,” Strebig said. “Barriers may include price or comfort level. It is our goal to eliminate these barriers.”

Strebig and the rest of the team believe that the passport is an affordable way to attend several events and ease you into the world of performing arts. Purchasing a passport is much more cost-effective than buying tickets for each event separately. It is also flexible, as you can exchange concert dates in case of a scheduling conflict.

Passports also give you the opportunity to not only make new friends, but it may also allow you to meet artists, and perhaps tour backstage areas! This gives you the chance to familiarize yourself with performers and venues.

As of right now, DP2A offers six performing arts destinations. With that being said, the program may add other aspects of the arts in the future, showcasing different platforms.

“At this point in time we haven’t had a chance to add any visual arts destinations,” Strebig said. “However, we are definitely interested in exposing our audience to visual arts and we have worked with galleries at events.”

The first destination is at the Hilberry Theatre on Saturday, Nov. 1. Where the classic play “Romeo and Juliet” shows. Destination two takes place at the Max M. Fisher Music Center on Thursday, Nov. 20, as the Detroit Symphony Orchestra performs “Gershwin in Paris.”

There is a brief hiatus before the third event on the itinerary, which doesn’t happen until Jan. 31, 2015. Eisenhower Dance presents The Light Show at the Detroit Opera House on this fine day. Following this is DP2A’s “most popular” event, as destination four allows patrons to travel to the Detroit Film Theatre and privately view 2015 Oscar-nominated short films. This part of the program is tentatively scheduled for a day to be announced in February 2015.

The next event (destination five), allows you to experience opera, as The Merry Widow plays at The Detroit Opera House on April 18, 2015. The final stop is at The Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival, where Eighth Blackbird presents Hand Eye in a string quartet concert with an atmosphere comparable to a rock band.

If, like me, you were not sure what “chamber music” is, allow the director to explain.

“Chamber music is performed by a small group of musicians,” Strebig said. “It uses pieces of music composed for 12 or fewer musicians and is usually held at smaller, more intimate venues. It really has its own energy!”

Each performance is followed by a social event as well. Generally these events take place at a different location near by—a restaurant, bar, lounge, etc. The events usually feature entertainment such as disk jockeys, guitarists or an artist from a different genre. And of course drinks!

“What we really want people to know is that this program is fun,” Strebig said. “It’s an opportunity to meet new people, see new places and do something you may not normally do. It’s networking, but it’s not forced networking. It is a great opportunity.”

Detroit Passport to The Arts is another great program that we’ve had the privilege of highlighting on “In the D.” The team works hard to culture the younger generation and exposes them to the arts. Let us not underestimate the power of an art culture. Keep up the good work, DP2A.