Detroit Creative Corridor Center to develop inclusive urban development strategy for next phase of Detroit City of Design initiative with $1 million from Knight Foundation

Funding will support a 10-year vision for Detroit as a UNESCO City of Design

Update March 12, 2018: Detroit Creative Corridor Center is now known as Design Core Detroit.*

DETROIT — Feb. 16, 2017 — The Detroit Creative Corridor Center (DC3), the nonprofit that supports Detroit’s creative industries and stewards its UNESCO City of Design designation, will create an economic development and civic engagement strategy that will include all residents in shaping the city’s future with $1 million from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The initiative aims to put Detroit on a global stage by creating lessons in urban revitalization that focus on excellence and inclusiveness in design. 

On Dec. 11, 2015, Detroit became the first and only city in the United States to be named a City of Design by the United Nations Educational, Science and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), a human rights organization that promotes cooperation with and among cities that use design to create an equitable and sustainable future. Obtaining a UNESCO City of Design designation has been part of Detroit Creative Corridor Center’s five-year strategy to tap into the city’s rich legacy and support growth in Detroit’s creative industries, spanning a broad range of disciplines from architecture to graphic design to product design. These industries are often perceived as luxuries, and not as fundamental to the way communities of all socio-economic backgrounds live and work. 

With Knight Foundation funding, DC3 will use best practices from the UNESCO network to launch a multiyear campaign that will mobilize the city’s creative industries to strengthen Detroit’s overall economy.

“The Detroit City of Design campaign will include activities to raise public awareness about the value of design and creative industries, promote an international exchange of designers and ideas; and increase opportunities for Detroit’s creative community,” said Olga Stella, executive director of DC3. “By breaking down silos between communities, business sectors and creative disciplines, we will build a broad and diverse coalition to champion the role of design and creativity in driving equitable and sustainable development in Detroit.”

As part of this campaign, DC3 is launching a yearlong planning process to build a 10-year vision for Detroit City of Design, strategies to achieve it and benchmarks to measure progress. The Kresge Foundation has awarded $150,000 to support the visioning process and resulting economic development strategy. In addition, the William Davidson Foundation has awarded $100,000 toward the planning process to better engage residents, creative practitioners, businesses and organizations in the initiative. DC3 has selected a consultant team to support the process and will announce more details about how to get involved in the coming weeks.

“This initiative is a huge opportunity for Detroit to distinguish itself from other design cities by focusing on removing barriers to opportunity in Detroit’s creative industries and creating a benefit for the entire community,” said Katy Locker, Knight Foundation program director for Detroit. “We hope to advance a broad understanding of city design as a pathway for success, and demonstrate its impact on growing jobs and businesses, as well as creating the kinds of neighborhoods where people want to live.”

Detroit City of Design will have its first opportunity to share its perspective globally at the 10th Saint-Étienne International Design Biennial in Saint-Etienne, France, where DC3 and its partners, Creative Many Michigan and Akoaki, will showcase three independent exhibitions focused on the theme “the future of work.” Curated by Public Design Trust, DC3’s exhibition is titled “Footwork: The Choreography of Collaboration” and examines the role of networked economies in Detroit.

Creative Many Michigan is curating “Shiftspace,” a presentation space featuring Detroit designers and exploring the future at the cross-section of inquiry between policy, business, technology and community through the lens of design. Akoaki is presenting the exhibition “Out of Site,” demonstrating the transformative power of design in amplifying neighborhood activity and fostering sustainable community development. With a lead gift of $100,000 from Knight Foundation to Creative Many Michigan, the three exhibitions are also supported by The Work Department, Lear Corp., Brandstorm, Faygo, McClure’s, Laavu, rootoftwo, AVL Americas, Detroit Wallpaper Co., CHAT of Michigan, Cite du Design, University of Michigan, ArtPlace, Ford Foundation, Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, University of Michigan Office of Research, Taubman College of Architecture + Urban Planning, Creative Many Resonant Detroit, and The Kresge Foundation.

Support for the Detroit Creative Corridor Center leverages Knight’s past investments in Detroit’s creative community, including $29 million for the Knight Arts Challenge through 2018 and $2.5 million for work to advance the creative community.

About Detroit Creative Corridor Center

DC3 is an economic development organization that works to strengthen Detroit’s creative economy and connect people to it. DC3 provides services to creative businesses and designers, offers widespread opportunities to engage with Detroit’s creative sectors, and champions Detroit’s creative economy. DC3 is a partnership between Business Leaders for Michigan and College for Creative Studies. Follow the Detroit Creative Corridor Center on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Knight Foundation is a national foundation with strong local roots. We invest in journalism, in the arts, and in the success of cities where brothers John S. and James L. Knight once published newspapers. Our goal is to foster informed and engaged communities, which we believe are essential for a healthy democracy. For more, visit

About the Saint-Étienne International Design Biennial 

Taking place March 9 – April 9, 2017 in Saint-Étienne, France, The Saint-Étienne International Design Biennial is one of the most eclectic of design events in France. Produced and directed by the Cité du design, with the support of private and public partners, the design biennials offers exhibitions, conferences, symposiums and meetings that offer perspective on the thinking and questions of our time through the lens of design.

A month-long event attracting over 230,000 visitors and hundreds of journalists from around the world, the 20th anniversary edition “Working Promesse” will explore shifting work paradigms and the future of work.  For more, visit


Kathleen Kennedy Ferris, DC3 Media Relations, Kennedy Ferris PR, 313-418-4898, [email protected]

Anusha Alikhan, Director of Communications, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, 305-908-2646, [email protected]