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Detroit Rep Announces Summer Festival

Music, food, arts and culture lovers are heading to the Detroit Repertory Theatre (DRT) for the third annual Summer Arts and Culture Festival on August 24, from noon to 10 p.m. This free outdoor street fair will span four blocks in the neighborhood surrounding the theatre's long-time location in the heart of Detroit.

The festival is a labor of love, and a gift to the community, according to DRT Director of Development, Leah Smith. It comes together through the efforts of mostly volunteers committed to celebrating diverse cultures, and to keeping the neighborhood, which the DRT calls home, alive, thriving and vibrant.

"If you love theatre, if you love music, if you love dancing, food, and all sorts of grown-folk fun, if you love Detroit arts and culture, this festival is a must-go," says Smith. "It's an opportunity to support professional theatre, artists and community initiatives, and have great fun, for free, while you're doing it."

Festival-goers will enjoy a day-long roster of arts and entertainment, including food, cash bar, local artists and vendors, and dancing to live musical acts showcasing a variety of genres. Expect spoken word, hip hop, jazz, classical, swing, reggae, funk, rock, and even a special New Orleans-style second line march through the streets led by the Gabriel Brass Band.

There will also be a sneak-peek performance from the DRT's upcoming season (for mature audiences due to language). Other activities include a free health clinic and gardening demos.

Unlike some summer festivals, DRT's Summer Arts and Culture Festival is an all-ages, free event. The day's young-people activities include a children's theatre performance, a youth acting and playwriting workshop, and other interactive and reading activities.

According to Bruce Millan, one of the DRT's founding members, the children's cultural activities and the community engagement are a reflection of DRT's roots. When the theatre started back in 1957, it originated as a traveling company producing plays for children, and became known for its interracial casts.

"This festival is a celebration of the arts, neighborhood revitalization, healthy living, community and the power of diversity acting in unity," says Smith. "The connection of a strong community is so much more powerful than the forces that divide us."

The Detroit Repertory Theatre's Summer Arts and Culture Festival is a collaboration between the theatre and their community partners Dream of Detroit, the Muslim Center, HUDA Clinic and HUG Community Garden. It's made possible in part by a grant from ART Ops and Community HeART of Highland Park.
The DRT is Michigan's longest running, professional theatre. They are a union, nonprofit organization that has been producing indigenous, diversity-centered productions in the heart of residential Detroit for more than six decades.

The Aug. 24 event takes place in the final days of the DRT's participation in the Quicken Loans Community Challenge. The festival will provide a final-push opportunity for the DRT to create awareness of their fundraising campaign, which takes place throughout the month of August.

"The arts are a powerful unifying tool," says Smith. "The DRT Summer Arts and Cultural Festival lets neighbors meet each other in a setting that encourages them to explore their own creativity, to dance, laugh, cry, be moved and to recognize that we are all in this together as a community."

For more information, including a full line up of entertainment, visit

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