The Return of FREE ART FRIDAY!

Free Art Friday will be back on May 16th. More info soon!

Free Art Friday 2014

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Creating a Vibrant Arts Scene in Farmington/Hills: It’s Time for a Performing Arts Center in Downtown Farmington

Last week we noted the 23 characteristics of a vibrant and healthy arts scene, as formulated by Renny Pritikin. Today we’ll start the first in a series identifying some ideas to enhance the vibrancy of the Farmington/Farmington Hills arts scene.


The most complex, expensive, and time-consuming addition (but perhaps the most impactful in the long-term) to a vibrant and healthy arts scene in Farmington and Farmington Hills would be to provide the community with a high-quality performing arts center, much like the Village Theater in Canton* (pictured here), to include a 400-seat theater, art exhibition space, and headquarters for area arts organizations.

Village Theater in Canton

A performing arts space like this could be built on the space currently occupied by the Maxfield Training Center and be part of a mixed-use development overlooking Shiawassee Park in downtown Farmington

The theater could be used for local theatrical and dance productions, presentations by area musical groups, screenings of independent and foreign films, lectures and community discussions, and for bringing in productions by talented artists and musicians from across the state (such as the Detroit Symphony Orchestra), country, and the world.

It would make sense for the cities of Farmington and Farmington Hills to partner on getting a facility built in downtown Farmington. Residents in Farmington Hills have consistently ranked the addition of a performing arts space high among the needs for our community as part of the recent Parks and Recreation Master Plans (including the 2014 plan). This would be a win-win for both cities and provide downtown restaurants and shops with additional customers coming into town for a performance.


Rather than build something near the Costick Center (and make driving a necessity) this facility could enhance the walkability of the downtown area and be built on the northeast corner of the space currently occupied by the Maxfield Training Center in downtown Farmington. One could easily imagine a theater atrium overlooking, and opening up to a new and more accessible path (for pedestrians and cyclists) down to Shiawassee Park.

In addition, this performing arts space could provide the cornerstone for a beautiful mixed-used development including condos or apartments along the north side, with great views overlooking Shiawassee Park, and a mix of retail and restaurants along Thomas Street.


Yes, it could be done … with a mix of public and private investment and the commitment of our residents and artistic community.

What do you think of this idea? Interested in making it happen? If so, we’d love to hear from you.

* Canton is nearly the size of Farmington Hills (in terms of population) and the community there was able to raise $5 million to build the approximately 400-seat Village Theater in 2004. The theater is home to nearly a dozen Canton-area arts organizations and has a very robust performance schedule.
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What to do in Farmington/Farmington Hills this Week (4/21/14): Earth Day, Local Beer, Rumors, and the Band

Riley Park in FarmingtonCheck out some of the fun arts & cultural events to look forward to in the Farmington/Farmington Hills community this week:

Tuesday, April 22nd, at 5:00 pm: Earth Day Celebration at Heritage Earth Day eventsPark, followed by an Afterglow at the Longacre House (24705 Farmington Rd) featuring organic food and local beers.

Friday, April 25th, at 8:00 pm: The Farmington Players present Neil Simon’s play Rumors, through May 17th. At the Barn Theater, 32332 West Twelve Mile Road.Farmington Community Band

Sunday, April 27th, at 3:00 pm:  The Farmington Community Band, under the direction of Damien Crutcher,  present their annual spring concert “Let It Spring!”. At the Harrison High School auditorium, 29995 W 12 Mile Rd.

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KickstART Your Weekend with Some Good Reads: On Creative CityMaking, Safe Storytelling, and the Public Square

Our (Good) Friday update here at kickstART farmington highlights some communitygreat articles we’ve read this week dealing with art, creative placemaking, and building great communities. You’re sure to find some inspiration to make our community even better!

1. On Creative CityMakingThe initiative is designed to help artists shape the discourse on key urban issues and, hopefully, boost public engagement in the process.

2. On creating a safe storytelling spaceToo often, underrepresented individuals in small communities are expected to move to the “big city” to feel safe or to find community, but this may not be a feasible option, especially in an economically depressed society

3. Enjoy a great video on the importance of place by Gracen Johnson:


4. America Needs a Tahrir SquareIf public squares are essential to democracy, is their relative absence in modern American life bad for our democracy … It won’t solve all our democracy’s problems, but restoring spaces where Americans can interact across ideological, religious, racial, and class lines would be a promising start.

5. Suburbs Try to Prevent an Exodus as Young Adults Move to Cities and Stay: younger adults are becoming more drawn to denser, more compact urban environments that offer a number of amenities within walking distance of where they live.

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Are You Passionate about the Arts in Our Community?

Yes YouWe’re looking for people with a passion for the arts and for our community!

Does this describe you?

If so, we’d love to speak with you about getting involved with kickstART farmington.

We have a lot of opportunities for volunteers to help plan a variety of events, including our regular author & writer series, a music series, a tour of artist’s studios, and the 2015 Greater Farmington Film Festival.

There are also opportunities to write for us, be involved in social media efforts, marketing and publicity, fundraising, and more.

If you’re interested in joining us or would like to learn more please contact us at

We look forward to hearing from you.


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Building a Healthy, Vibrant Arts Scene in Farmington/Hills

Free Art FridayA key mission for kickstART farmington as we promote the good of Farmington and Farmington Hills through the arts is to support the development of a healthy and vibrant arts scene in our community.

Several years ago, Renny Pritikin, an experienced director of arts organizations and galleries, and currently the Chief Curator of San Francisco’s Contemporary Jewish Museum, wrote a prescription for a healthy arts scene. It provides an interesting set of criteria for us to evaluate the health and vibrancy of the arts scene in our community.

Below are his 23 qualities or characteristics:

  • A large pool of artists: there’s a critical mass or tipping point that makes a scene
  • Teaching opportunities which help support the pool of artists
  • Active art schools which feed into the pool of artists and give artists teaching opportunities
  • Studio space that’s affordable as well as live/work laws that allow artists to occupy light industrial spaces
  • Alternative spaces that given exhibition and residence opportunities for new art and ideas
  • Adventurous art dealers who take on new artists, support artists with sales
  • Adventurous collectors who buy locally and buy new work (and) make their collections available to students
  • Sophisticated writers to document, discuss and promote new ideas/continuing regional development
  • Publications for them to write for
  • Newspaper critics who are thoughtful and sophisticated and talented
  • Fellowships and grants available for artists and writers
  • Accessible museums and curators who talk to each other and do studio visits with local artists
  • Interested audiences who attend all of the above and read about it
  • Access to specialized materials or businesses (such as high tech materials in the SF Bay Area or film industry in LA)
  • Social space where new ideas are being generated about art, about society, about the role of art
  • Hangouts, parties, salons, lecture series. Restaurants, bars where a sense of community is manifested
  • Articulate artist leaders
  • Heroes, iconoclasts, villains (people everyone love to hate)
  • Artist in residency opportunities
  • Progressive political climate that encourages art
  • Opportunities for artists to get involved in politics
  • Opportunities for public art (city or private)
  • Events that bring people together, for example, scheduled multigallery opening nights

What would you add?

What do you think is missing from our community in order to develop a vibrant arts scene?

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Missed “Art of the Matter”? View the Panel Discussion

In March the Farmington Area Arts Commission sponsored the first Art of the Matter event, a discussion with area arts professionals about careers in the arts.

If you missed it you can view a video of the discussions here.


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