Blog: Maud Lyon

Our guest blogger for this week is Maud Lyon. Maud is the founding director of the Cultural Alliance, and a consultant for numerous nonprofit organizations.

Check back here each week day to read Maud's thoughts on the state of arts and culture in Michigan.

One D – the Art of Regional Transformation

A primary goal of the Cultural Alliance is to make arts and culture organizations sustainable – so that the arts will help our region to grow and thrive. That is why we are a proud partner of One D:  Transforming Regional Detroit.

One D is about the spirit of regional collaboration. The Cultural Alliance is a partner with the Detroit Regional Chamber, Detroit Renaissance, The United Way for Southeastern Michigan, the Detroit Metro Convention and Visitors Bureau, and New Detroit to lead a very creative act:  changing our identity. We are a region: not cities, townships, or counties. Our greatest challenge is imagining that future and staying focused on our priorities, so that we can compete with world markets instead of each other.  

Arts and culture is an important part of all five of One D's priorities. Last fall, when the Royal Shakespeare Company held its residency at the University Musical Society in Ann Arbor, the MEDC sponsored performances of Julius Ceasar and built a business attraction campaign to woo entrepreneurs to the region – and it worked, bringing commitments for two new businesses. Economic Prosperity is one of One D’s goals. We are also proud that Rick Rogers, President of CCS, co-chaired the Creative Economy team for the Road to Renaissance, with the active participation of many other Cultural Alliance members.

The role of arts and culture in Educational Preparedness is obvious.  The arts is a proven way to cultivate the attention span of young learners, to help them to read, to give them an incentive to stay in school, and to become a part of life-long learning. The arts also teach teamwork, social skills, and communications skills that are essential for the workplace. Just ask any of the graduates of Mosaic Youth Theatre, 95% of whom go on to college. 

In Race Relations, we discovered a wealth of programs. If you haven’t already seen it, schedule your visit to see the exhibition Race: Are We So Different at the Charles Wright Museum of African American History – and after you go, talk to people about what you learned. Or go to the Concert of Colors in July, sponsored by ACCESS, New Detroit, and held at the Max M. Fischer Music Center of the DSO. Equally important are the quiet programs, like the years of mentoring of at-risk youth done by staff at The Henry Ford.

The arts are also involved in Mass Transit – after all, we give everyone a reason to go places!  The final One D priority is Quality of Life – a broad category that has to do with making us all healthy, socially engaged, and actively involved in making life better for everyone. Arts and culture is a mainstay for regional culture and community:  attending, creating, and participating in the arts. We help people reach.

Creating the collective future of our region is part art, part science, and a shared experience in which we are all actors, audience, and reviewers. To succeed, the arts need to act more like businesses, and businesspeople need to be artists, a unique blend of inspiration, drive and discipline. One D is not an organization: it is a state of mind.

So now you know what the Cultural Alliance is all about. Who are we? Membership is open to all non-profit organizations that are engaged in creating, producing, promoting, teaching, or advocating for arts and culture. The Alliance includes large organizations like Cranbrook, the DIA, the Zoo, MOT and The Henry Ford, mid-sized institutions like the Detroit Science Center and Arab American National Museum, and many small organizations, like Plowshares Theatre, Pewabic Pottery, and Arts and Scraps. Belonging to the Alliance helps our members to network with each other, learn new approaches, and to build relationships of mutual support. We have over 30 members now. It is our goal to have hundreds of member organizations.  

The Cultural Alliance exists to make arts institutions more effective, efficient, innovative, and collaborative. Come join us!