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After the abrupt closing of the Russell Industrial Center last month, dozens of artists and other tenants were left with nowhere to work.

Monday, the city of River Rouge stretched out a hand to the displaced painters, photographers and other creative types, offering to help them find new studio space in the downriver community.

According to a press release, the city will provide “legal and financial consultation” to displaced artists.

If the artists take the city up on the offer, which is operating under the working title of “Artists First,” it could help fill River Rouge’s city-owned and commercial storefront properties and former industrial spaces.

“We feel that our close proximity to Downtown Detroit, and the new Gordie Howe Bridge, gives us in River Rouge a unique opportunity to reinvent ourselves as a community. We intend to take full advantage of these positives, and aggressively market our city accordingly,” said former mayor and current councilman Dan Cooney in a release.

A bus tour of River Rouge will be offered to artists in the next few weeks.

Cooney is teamed up with River Rouge’s community development director Karl Laub and longtime art advocate Rick Manore to develop the Artists First program.

“We realize that River Rouge cannot be an industrial-based economy anymore, so we are willing to become a haven for the creative, industrious and musical artists who populated the almost 150 studios (at the Russell),” said Manore. “If we can help make the abrupt closing of the former Russell Industrial Center a viable and less stressful option for many, we welcome you.”

mbaetens@detroitnews.com

(313) 222-2402

Twitter: @melodybaetens

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