Crowdfunding campaign launches in Southwest Detroit to transform vacant house into new performance and art space

Nate Pilon

Friday, June 5, 2015

$10,000 goal to secure matching grant through MEDC’s Public Spaces Community Places initiative

Lansing, Mich. – The Michigan Economic Development Corporation and House Opera, a new performance and art base in Detroit, today announced a new crowdfunding campaign through Michigan-based crowdfunding platform Patronicity. The campaign will support the construction of an open theatre space at 1620 Morrell Street, a once vacant and dilapidated home that is being transformed into the House Opera | Opera House.

If House Opera | Opera House attains its crowdfunding goal of $10,000 by July 1, MEDC will provide a $10,000 matching grant with funds made possible by the MEDC Public Spaces Community Places program. For project details and to donate, please visit:

“The transformation of a vacant house into a base for performance and art presents a unique opportunity to capitalize on Detroit’s thriving arts scene and bring the community together,” said MEDC Community Development Director Katharine Czarnecki. “We are pleased to be able to provide resources through initiatives like Public Spaces Community Places that drive community and economic development activity throughout Michigan.”

Two and a half years ago the house was bought by V. Mitch McEwen in order to be transformed into a creative hub for performance, art and design. The initial launch was supported by The Graham Foundation, and recently received a $10,000 grant from the Knight Arts Challenge to help fund half of the upcoming transformation.

“The House Opera | Opera House starts with a vacant house in Detroit that's been stripped - no plumbing, no fixtures, with the water cut off,” said Mitch McEwen, principal of A(n) Office with Marcelo Lopez-Dinardi, designers of the House Opera | House Opera. “Instead of trying to add those things back to make the house livable, the House Opera project seeks to find, what can we keep taking away to make what used to be a house into a place of collaboration, arts, and performance?"

The project will include structural work on the house, including roof repair, replacing exterior sheathing, wrapping the house in a custom pattern Tyvek and a 25-foot-high open stage, as well as the production of the inaugural Sigi Fest by Afrotopia. House Opera | Opera House aims to create a collaborative space to create original work and tell the stories of Detroit.

Public Spaces Community Places is a collaborative effort of the MEDC, the Michigan Municipal League, and Patronicity where local residents can use crowdfunding to be part of the development of strategic projects in their communities and be backed with a matching grant from MEDC. Communities, non-profits and other business entities can apply at

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About Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC)

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation is the state’s marketing arm and lead advocate for business development, job awareness and community development with the focus on growing Michigan’s economy. For more information on the MEDC and our initiatives, visit For Pure Michigan® tourism information, your trip begins at Join the conversation on: Facebook Instagram LinkedIn, and Twitter.