A(n) Office and McEwen Studio are converting a vacant balloon-frame house in Detroit into the House Opera space for arts and performance. According to their website and fundraising campaign, “The space opens to the public next month with an Afrotopia festival July 24th and 25th, featuring a new sculpture from Jasmine Murrell crafted with aluminum siding stripped off the house exterior.”
Two and a half years ago, V. Mitch McEwen bought a vacant house in southwest Detroit. Since then, a group of collaborators has formed, including Detroit curators and community organizers, as well as design and art collaborators from around the country, to make this house into the House Opera | Opera House, a new performance and arts space. The Graham Foundation supported the design and research and initial public programming for the project. A $10,000 Knight Arts Challenge grant funds half of the construction work to transform the derelict house to a neighborhood opera house. The Knight Foundation covered this initiative in the Knight Blog, highlighting the focus on community engagement and the goal to bring art and performance to vacant space.
The house, which McEwen purchased from the city, is 2,000 square feet with two levels and a basement. McEwen is working in collaboration with Marcelo López-Dinardi, her partner at New York firm, A(n) Office, and the artist group HOWDOYOUSAYYAMINAFRICAN? They are gutting the interior, removing a level of the house and side wall to make an open theater space that will serve as a platform for Detroit storytelling.They have a fundraising campaign live for the next 9 days-check out rewards for supporters HERE! The $10,000 they are raising matches funds from the Knight Foundation, as the structural work totals almost $20,000). Additional funds donated will be allocated first to material and cost over-runs, then to secure and aesthetically-pleasing fencing of the back and front yard, then to realizing the incorporation of a local visual artist’s work into the permanent sheathing of the House Opera in 2016.
The project aims to integrate with the city on a local level and is collaborating with Detroit artists to advise and direct the staging of original works that integrate stories from the neighborhood. The house footprint and yard combined are over 3,000 square feet.
After this construction, 1620 Morrell will open to the public as the House Opera | Opera House with a festival dedicated to spiritual traditions, art, music and performance. This festival, Sigi Fest, will take place July 24-25.
The House Opera | Opera House project is supported by the Graham Foundation, the Knight Foundation, and Taubman College of Architecture + Urban Planning at the University of Michigan.
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