As the second iteration of Threads All Arts Festival unfolds, we would like to respond to several concerns the team has received due to our decision to host this year’s festival in Ypsilanti instead of Ann Arbor. We’ve been made aware of its potential to propagate gentrification in the area.
First off, our team is working hard to become more informed about the issues that have been brought to light. We are listening, and invite anyone to speak out about their feelings and perspectives regarding our impact on the community. Our highest priority is to execute this festival with humility. Our intent is not to exhibit any single group of people but to bring the creative and diverse community of southeastern Michigan together under one roof.
Every day we become more aware of the enormous responsibility that is assumed when putting on a public event. We believe that art can be used as a powerful way to address issues such as gentrification and underlying cycles of oppression, both of which are particularly relevant to the Ypsilanti community. Our hope is that by working closely with artists and community members, we can create an environment in which these problems are openly explored. We have so much more to learn and that excites us, but we also understand that it takes time.
We take our responsibility to Ypsilanti businesses and community members seriously. Our goal is to approach each of our local partners with respect and a commitment to develop healthy partnerships based on shared values. We are collaborating with Ypsilanti arts and education organizations to present artist workshops and to build connections between artists and local curators. We are working with our partners to ensure that goods and services provided at the festival will be locally-sourced. And above all else, Threads is incredibly grateful to the Freighthouse for hosting us - without them, we would never be learning any of this.
Our Call for Artists has been reopened to Ypsi-based artists and will remain open until January 21st. We are thankful to the artists that have been willing to give up their spot in order to help us have a lineup that better represents Ypsilanti and the surrounding community.
What can we do in the time that we have pre-festival to better address these issues? And also, what can we do post-festival? We welcome your thoughts about how to improve Threads, how to improve arts engagement with external communities, and how to encourage peer-to-peer support as a whole, for present and future.
Please reach out to us, we’d love to hear from you.
The Threads Team