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Detroit’s Cultural Center to get free outdoor Wi-Fi

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The Detroit Cultural Center will receive free outdoor public WiFi in 2021. Access will be possible as early as spring this year.

Efforts, which are part of the Detroit Cultural Center’s planning initiative, are designed to attract visitors to the area and encourage outdoor activities. It is funded in large part by a $ 500,000 grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, officials said Monday.

The city’s cultural hub is located in Midtown on Woodward Avenue and includes the Detroit Historical Museum, the Detroit Institute of Arts, and the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History. Other facilities in the area include the Carr Center, the Detroit Public Library, the Hellenic Museum of Michigan, the International Institute of Metropolitan Detroit, and the Michigan Science Center.

“This grant will not only support the installation of free public WiFi in the district, but also collaboration, risk-taking and experimentation within the Detroit Cultural Center for Location-Based Digital Transformation,” said Sue Mosey, CEO of Midtown Detroit Inc. said in a statement on Monday. Mosey has led the larger initiative for the past 18 months.

According to a coverage map, the free WiFi will cover an area bounded by Cass Avenue to the west, Brush Street to the east, Warren Avenue to the south, and Ferry Street to the north.

The Wi-Fi effort is in partnership with the Computer and Information Technology Department of Wayne State University and rootoftwo, LLC, an Ann Arbor-based design studio. It is intended to be an extension of the university’s existing campus system. The Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation has provided additional financial assistance, officials said.

“Knowing that 2021 will still be a very difficult year for everyone due to the pandemic, let’s experiment for a year to see what works and what doesn’t,” said Annmarie Borucki, director of arts and culture for Midtown Detroit. “And we know we need to get more programming out there.”

The digital strategy is part of the planning initiative launched in 2018 for the Detroit Cultural Center and included an international competition between landscape design and urban development companies tasked with redesigning the city’s cultural center.

Midtown Detroit and the Detroit Institute of Arts produced the competition that resulted in the design team Agence Ter-Akoaki LLC, an international collaboration of designers led by Agence Ter from Paris and Akoaki from Detroit.

Planning work has been delayed due to the pandemic but will continue, Boruski said. Fundraising is ongoing for the final phase of planning, which is expected to be completed by summer.

“At the same time, we still have a lot of community involvement to do,” said Borucki.

Funding from the Knight Foundation will support workshops focused on creating new digital experiences and guide small grants to regional institutions to test ideas, officials said.

“The pandemic-related shutdown accelerated the way institutions were experimenting with digital technology to engage audiences,” said Cézanne Charles, partner at rootoftwo. “With this grant, we can build on these achievements to build additional capacity for the CCPI organizations while testing compelling digital forms of creative expression, storytelling and audience experiences in 2021 and beyond.”

Agence Ter-Akoaki LLC will share its research and design and solicit feedback from the public on ccpi.online.

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Twitter: @CWilliams_DN

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Dusty Kennedy