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Study: Non-white Metro Detroiters report less access to arts and culture

Michael H. Hodges
The Detroit News

Metro Detroiters of color are 14% less likely to say they enjoy "easy access" to the arts and cultural events than their white counterparts, according to a Knight Foundation study completed before the COVID-19 shutdowns.

The analysis, conducted for the foundation by the Urban Institute, found that only 65% of non-white residents in a six-county survey of 582 respondents reported easy access to the arts, compared to 79% of whites.

The racial gap among Detroit-area residents was larger than that reported nationally, where the differential between whites and non-whites was only 4%.

All the same, non-white respondents in the Detroit area placed a greater value on arts and culture than their white neighbors.

The Detroit Institute of Arts.

"Detroiters believe that the presence of art and culture in our lives is essential to our collective well-being," said Nate Wallace, director of Knight's Detroit program, in a prepared statement, "despite the fact that Blacks and other communities of color report a harder time accessing them."

The report has particular resonance at a time when both the Detroit Institute of Arts and the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit are grappling with accusations of racial neglect and insensitivity.

The six counties surveyed were Lapeer, Livingston, Macomb, Oakland, St. Clair and Wayne.

Overall, Detroiters of all races and ethnicities were slightly more apt to say they have ready access to arts and culture -- 74% locally versus 72% nationwide.

They also placed a greater value on those activities than respondents in the country at large, with 52% of Metro Detroiters saying they were very important, compared to 44% in the U.S. generally.

The statistics are drawn from Knight's "Community Ties: Understanding What Attaches People to the Place Where They Live," which surveyed 11,000 respondents in 26 metro areas, Detroit included.

The survey is one of the largest data sets analyzing what drives attachment to place, access to urban amenities, and what cities might do to boost the sense of belonging for their residents.

mhodges@detroitnews.com

(313) 815-6410

Twitter: @mhodgesartguy

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