Detroit’s Cultural Center

Poised for Digital Transformation

Midtown Detroit Inc.

Detroit’s Cultural Center Planning Initiative (CCPI) was awarded a one-year $500,000 grant from The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to help implement a comprehensive digital strategy, including installation of free, outdoor public Wi-Fi in 2021 throughout the Cultural Center. The Knight Foundation grant also supports capacity building, and the development of infrastructure and compelling use cases for technology within the Cultural Center.

rootoftwo is leading the strategy and master planning for the creative/civic technology aspects of the CCPI. We were selected as part of a larger design team, by a distinguished jury of national and local practitioners in 2018 through an international competition that attracted 44 submissions from 10 countries and 22 cities.

Awarded to Midtown Detroit Inc., the grant supports our continued work with the Cultural Center Planning Initiative in 2021 to develop the place-based digital strategy with the Cultural Center organizations. The pandemic-related closures accelerated the way institutions were experimenting with digital technologies to engage audiences. This grant allows us to build on those successes by developing additional capacity for the CCPI organizations while piloting compelling digital forms of creative expression, storytelling, and audience experiences in 2021 and beyond.

“Not only will this grant support the installation of free, public Wi-Fi in the district, it will also support collaboration, risk-taking, and experimentation within Detroit’s Cultural Center for place-based, digital transformation,” stated Sue Mosey, Executive Director of Midtown Detroit, Inc. (MDI), who has been leading the CCPI over the last 18 months.

A map of the Detroit Cultural Center overlaid with an indication of the coverage of the new free, public, wifi.

In a partnership with Wayne State University’s Computing and Information Technology Department (WSU C&IT) and rootoftwo, free outdoor wireless will be offered in Detroit’s Cultural Center, an area that includes CCPI stakeholder institutions: Carr Center, Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, College for Creative Studies, Detroit Historical Museum, Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit Public Library, Hellenic Museum of Michigan, International Institute of Metropolitan Detroit, Michigan Science Center, The Scarab Club, University of Michigan and Wayne State University.

The wireless system will be an extension of WSU’s existing campus system and will help attract visitors to the district and encourage more outdoor programming, while providing accessible and reliable public Wi-Fi for audiences throughout the outdoor spaces of the district.

The Knight Foundation grant also supports the development of digital capacity workshops focused on the creation of new digital experiences and will be accompanied by small grants for the stakeholder institutions to test ideas. Additional funding to support this system was provided by the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation.

For more coverage and information visit Cultural Center Planning Initiative.

Detroit News: Detroit’s Cultural Center to get free outdoor Wi-Fi 

Crain’s Detroit Business: $500,000 grant to expand free outdoor Wi-Fi, programming in Detroit’s Cultural Center 

DBusiness: Free Wi-Fi to be Added to Detroit’s Cultural Center in 2021 

Michigan Chronicle: Detroit’s Cultural Center Set to Install Free, Outdoor Public Wi-Fi in 2021 | Arts and Culture | The Michigan Chronicle 

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