Mayor Duggan and Detroit ACE announce plans to activate neighborhood Arts Alleys around the city


Mayor Duggan and Detroit ACE announce plans to activate neighborhood Arts Alleys around the city

  • Funded by $3 Million in ARPA dollars with support from the Ford Foundation

  • Project a key component of Mayor’s Blight to Beauty initiative

  • Artists, alley design to be selected by residents during community engagement process

  • Transformations to include infrastructure improvements for alleys making them renewed and able to be utilized again

DETROIT – Today, Mayor Duggan and Detroit ACE announced a new initiative to transform commercial and residential alleys in five neighborhoods across the city into community gathering spaces where residents can exhibit and experience art.

The project, called the Arts Alley Initiative, is funded with $3 million from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) approved by Detroit City Council. The Arts Alleys project, which is part of Mayor Duggan’s “Blight to Beauty” campaign, is also supported by the Ford Foundation. The Art Alleys project is being conducted first as a pilot for possible future neighborhood alley activations by residents in neighborhoods throughout the city.

The Arts Alleys project will build on work already being done by community groups and neighborhood associations that have activated alleys in their neighborhoods with art and creativity. It also builds on the work being done by the city to clear brush and trash from thousands of alleys across the city. Over the past two years, alleys behind nearly 2,000 residential blocks have been cleared and reclaimed.

“Alleys in our city for years have been havens for illegal dumping and overgrowth and we’re steadily changing that,” said Mayor Duggan. “Activating neighborhood alleys in this creative way is going to help turn them into real community assets and attractions.”

The Detroit Arts, Culture, & Entrepreneurship Office will execute community engagement throughout key areas in the city. The five pilot Arts Alleys will be in:

  • Jefferson Chalmers
  • Old Redford
  • Schulze
  • NW Goldberg
  • Southwest

Next Steps:

ACE will collaborate with residents in these areas, their neighbors and other stakeholders through the summer and fall to develop designs to overhaul an alley in each neighborhood. These transformations will bring new landscaping, improved surfacing, and amenities while partnering together with local artists and residents to imbue these improvements with a sense of history, beauty and imagination.

Sidewalk Detroit, a Detroit-based, Black-owned company is currently working with the city to conduct the community engagement phase of the design process. After the design process for each alley is completed this fall, ACE will issue an RFP for general contractors in early 2023, with improvements to begin later in the year.

The City’s Arts & Culture Director, Rochelle Riley said that beautified alleys will add to residents’ quality of life.

“The Covid-19 pandemic showed us the importance of safe, accessible green spaces in our neighborhoods,” said Rochelle Riley, Director of Arts and Culture for the City. “We want to help communities create their own spaces for activities and enjoyment.”

The objectives of this project are to spur neighborhood development and revitalization, mitigate localized flooding through low-cost stormwater management strategies, create opportunities for the creative workforce, and highlight neighborhood creativity. These spaces will become hubs for small business activations, events, and sources of pride for residents in each community.

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Alley in Artist Village before Arts Alleys project. 


An example of what the same alley may look like after Arts Alleys activation.