Study shows racial gap in perceived access to arts in metro Detroit

Amid controversies at two premier Detroit museums, the Knight Foundation is spotlighting recent research showing a gap between white and nonwhite residents in their perceived access to the arts.
About 79% of white metro Detroit residents and 65% of nonwhite residents reported “very easy access” to arts and cultural activities, according to the report. That’s a wider racial disparity than indicated by data nationally, where the numbers were 73% and 69% respectively.
The statistics are drawn from Community Ties, a Knight survey of about 11,000 Americans measuring attachment to their communities. The study was conducted prior to the coronavirus pandemic and was published in May.
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The survey included 582 people in the greater Detroit area. The data was weighted to reflect the population profile of the region, with 16% in the city of Detroit and the remainder in the surrounding metro area, including Wayne, Lapeer, Livingston, Macomb, Oakland and St. Clair counties. The racial breakdown of the final data was 68% white and 32% nonwhite.
The Knight Foundation is emphasizing the finding in the wake of racially tinged controversies at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD) and the Detroit Institute of Art, which led to calls for the firing of directors at both. MOCAD ousted executive director Elysia Borowy-Reeder last week.
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“The arts have a singular power to help us understand ourselves and each other – to connect with each other and to the places where we live,” read a statement by Priya Sircar, director of the Knight Foundation’s arts program. “Every community member deserves equitable opportunities to participate meaningfully in Detroit’s unique culture. The national conversation about equity carries a mandate for all of us who are working to improve our communities to strive even harder to ensure an equitable future.”
The Community Ties research drills into metro Detroiters’ feelings on a variety of topics, including public safety, health care, highways and family amenities.
On the arts and culture front, 74% of metro Detroiters surveyed said they had easy access to arts and cultural activities, compared with 72% nationally.
And 86% of metro Detroiters said they had easy access to dining and nightlife options, compared with 79% nationally.
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