The Rosa Parks Boys are making a name for themselves in the flourishing neighbourhood of Corktown in Detroit, MI. The crew behind this new venue space is Jim Tumey, Justin Bohl, and Francois Decomble, three roommates that who have known each other for years and currently live together near the venue space at 2051 Rosa Parks. Along with the open event space, there is a gallery in the front and a movie theatre further inside.
…the mural aimed to mimic another function of the signs: In a city where face-to-face interaction is limited, the signs are an indication of life going on around us. The triangles applied to the facade’s peeling paint suggest that there is new energy breathing into the once-abandoned warehouse.”
PLAYGROUND DETROIT got to know the guys behind the space after attending their Sunday Movies Night event for the screening of the classic Italian movie, 8 1/2, a 1963 Italian-French comedy-drama film directed by Federico Fellini.
Are you guys from Detroit?
Justin and myself [Jim] are from the Metro Detroit area, and Francois is from France. We all travel quite a bit, but the energy in Detroit is very motivating for us, you can’t find anything like it in other cities. While traveling and meeting other people doing so many cool things around the world, it just made sense for us to create a flexible space in our favorite neighborhood.
When did the idea of the space come about and what were the first steps to begin making it happen?
For a while, Francois would host movie nights inside his apartment. It was a spontaneous idea that started on a napkin at the bar. The next step was finding an actual space. We knew we wanted it in Corktown, because that’s where we all live. Corktown attracts lots of creative individuals and entrepreneurs and it offers most of Detroit’s best food, cafe and drinks all within walking distance.
We felt Corktown was missing a sort of “creative venue” so we wanted to provide something walkable to everyone in the neighborhood looking for something to do in between grabbing food or coffee or before drinks. While walking through 2051 Rosa Parks, we were excited about the unique layout of the space, and the idea of the garage doors as an entry. The last step was the designing and build-out of the space. When designing, we knew we wanted sculptural/skate-able elements incorporated throughout and to be able to flow into one area and back into another area.
After we found the location, we built out the entire space in two months for our grand opening during Memorial Day weekend. We’re still figuring out the hours of regular operation. Every other Friday we host an opening reception for artists to showcase their art, and then we have Sunday Night Movies, which is every Sunday at 9pm. If people want to stay up to date on our events, they can check out our Instagram.
How did Levis get involved? What was their reaction to the city?
Levi’s was looking to support a DIY project in the US after supporting projects in India and Bolivia. Detroit was one of the cities on their radar. They heard about our project and wanted to get involved. We pitched our idea to Levi’s and they felt it was worthy of supporting financially to help get the project started. They sent out a few professional skateboarders and a filmer/photographer to document and celebrate the grand opening.
It was their first time to Detroit and the city and space exceeded their expectations.
Like most visitors to Detroit, the had the typical expectation of Detroit being a dangerous bankrupt city. From their feedback, they have a new respect and understanding of the city and people here.”
What goals do you have with the space and what can people expect in the future?
Our main goal is to keep providing a place for the community and creative people. We are just watching this evolve and letting it grow naturally.We are really excited for the future of the space. Over the next few weeks we will be hosting local pop-ups with retails stores, dinners, tattoos, haircuts and a flea market in the courtyard.
What was the best and worst parts of starting RPB?
The best part was definitely seeing the support from our friends and the community. RPB is much more than a few friends, many people were involved in making this project happen. We want to thank everyone that has helped and patronized our space. This is all donation based and we appreciate anyone that has donated to keep Rosa Parks Boys going. The challenges were the endless physical demands involved in getting the space ready in a two month timeframe.
Where do you see Detroit in 10 years?
We would like to see Detroit continue to grow, while maintaining and preserving it’s history and creative culture.
Although since the space opened, various blogs and skateboard websites have deemed the space a “DIY Skatepark,” The Boys made sure to let PLAYGROUND DETROIT know that they are trying to not make this seem like a skatepark; “It’s so much more than that.”