Blog: George N'Namdi

Metro Detroit is one of the largest contemporary art markets in the country, according to George N'Namdi, founder of the N'Namdi Center for Contemporary Art, a visual and performing arts venue housing one of the world's finest collections of African American art. This week George writes about the guest curators and artists who are turning Detroit's Sugar Hill arts district into a showpiece of the modern art circuit.

Post 3: Footprints on Detroit

Detroit is poised to become a popular tourist destination for art patrons. It is a city which has been described in many different ways by those who have visited the city and equally by those who have never been. Over the years I have played host to many visitors from artists, art patrons, and business consultants to family and friends. The one consistent thing they have gone away with is how the vibe of the city is so unique and interesting. I sometimes explain the assets of the city and what makes Detroit so different. 1) Detroit empowers its citizens, we feel we can make a difference, and 2) independent businesses are the norm and 3) arts and culture are important. I thought in discussing tourism we must first compare Detroit to other cities so I have a list of questions I'd like you to ask yourself before I begin.

Please select the city that goes with the following:

a.   The largest African American museum
b.   Over 12 live music venues in the Downtown area
c.   An internationally acclaimed Opera House
d.   Art museum ranked in the Top 10 nationally
e.   Houses a top design school
f.    3 international Music Festivals
g.   Over 6 major art institutions that were founded by African Americans and maintain all  or  part of their missions in preservation of African American Art
h.   3 casinos
i.    3 professional sports teams
j.    A music museum
k.   The second largest number of theatre seats

The answer is, of course, Detroit. Many of the answers above are well known, like the Detroit Opera House or our sports teams and casinos as well. Some of you may not know the answer to g., which is:  The Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, the Virgil H. Cultural Center, the Heidelberg Project, the Motown Museum, and the N'Namdi Center for Contemporary Art. Lastly, the Detroit Institute of Art houses the General Motors Center for African American Art, which is the only one in existence at a major museum.

This list contains only things located in the midtown Cultural Center and the Downtown areas. The metropolitan area has a vast array of cultural and art institutions, from Cranbrook, the Oakland University gallery and Meadow Brook Theatre, The Henry Ford, Birmingham Bloomfield Art Center, the Holocaust Memorial Center, and the Arab American National Museum, just to name a few.  

Tourism, an industry focusing on art patrons, is one that Detroit and the metro area can easily support. The city is within a four-hour drive radius of over forty million people and has an international border. We offer an incredible art collection along with live music and theatre, beautiful hotels, world-class dining, and an exciting night life. These assets within the geographic location of the city make the future of Detroit's tourism industry promising.