Free outside wi-fi is coming to Detroit's Cultural Center

December 29, 2020, 2:01 PM

Good local news about 2021 surfaces already: Free outdoor wi-fi is coming to a wide area around Detroit's Cultural Center attractions.

Two foundation grants underwrite the handy amenity for the Midtown gathering spot for students, workers, tourists and Metro Detroiters. The strengthened online access will extend Wayne State University's campus wi-fi network to connect 12 cultural institutions.

Support comes mainly from the he John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, which is based in Miami and has a Detroit office. It kicks in $500,000, to be supplemented by an undisclosed amount from Detroit's Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation. WSU’s Computing and Information Technology Department and an Ann Arbor design firm, rootoftwo, will create the neighborhood network.

Free wi-fi will be available in the green area. (Graphic: Midtown Detroit]

It'll encompass a stretch of Woodward Avenue and nearby streets that include the Detroit Historical Museum, Detroit Institute of Arts, the College for Creative Studies and the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History.Other area destinations are the Carr Center, Detroit Public Library, the Scarab Club, Hellenic Museum of Michigan, International Institute of Metropolitan Detroit and the Michigan Science Center. 

The boundaries are Cass Avenue to the west, Brush Street to the east, Warren Avenue as a southern edge and Ferry Street on the north.

"Because we know that 2021 is still going to be a really tough year for everyone because of the pandemic, ... we know that we need to deliver on bringing more programming outside," said Annmarie Borucki, director of arts and culture at Midtown Detroit, an economic and community development nonprofit that receives the Knight Foundation grant. 

The local group's executive director, Sue Mosey, drops urban planner jargon in a statement quoted by The Detroit News. It says the money "will also support collaboration, risk-taking, and experimentation within Detroit's Cultural Center for place-based, digital transformation."

The proect includes:

  • Pop-up video screens for cultural programming will influence the future placement of permanent screens in the district.

  • Workshops for area institutions will focus on creating digital experiences to be financed by small grants for testing ideas.

  • Fresh branding and a website to reinforce the Cultural Center as a place worth visiting.

Technology enhancements will be showcased next Sept. 24-25 at the Dlectricity festival, an art and tech event produced by Midtown Detroit in 2012, 2014 and 2017.

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