From its beginnings in the early 1980s, techno music culture in Detroit has been about stretching the limits of creative freedom. When the Berlin Wall came tumbling down in 1989, the reunified German capital needed a soundtrack to match its newfound euphoria. Detroit was there to help stretch that historic moment into many over the next 30 years. The fact that Berlin was open all
night and Detroit techno artists were wired to play high impact music until dawn and beyond made for a perfect partnership. The seeds were planted then for an industry that flourishes worldwide today.
Thirty years later, one of the results of that enduring friendship is the Detroit-Berlin Connection (DBC), a group dedicated to growing both the night economy and the creative industries that support it. On May 21-22, the DBC will hold its sixth annual Detroit conference, The Potential. The two-day event is co-funded by Deutschlandjahr USA and the Goethe-Institut Chicago, and is presented in partnership with the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD), Tresor Berlin, and Your Mom’s Agency (Berlin).
On May 21, a public talk at Tangent Gallery will feature guest presenters Mirik Milan & Lutz Leichsenring of Berlin’s VibeLab, an agency that advocates for night economy initiatives around the world. Milan & Lutz will reflect on their experience in creating dialogue and exchange between cross-sector stakeholders, and how Detroit could follow a similar path to create a vibrant 24-hour economy. Tourism based around techno and the curfew-free night has produced huge economic and social dividends in Berlin. They will also talk about how innovative models created and practiced in Berlin can be applied to Detroit and other cities.
The second day, May 22, is organized by Your Mom’s Agency (Berlin) and takes place at Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD). It features music production workshops for teens given by artists from the two cities including Afro-Futurist pioneer and Detroit-Berlin techno producer Alan Oldham, and Detroit hip-hop and diversity advocate Piper Carter. Day two also features a film screening of Berlin: Symphony of a Metropolis, this silent German film classic explores a day in the life of Berlin with a modern twist: connecting the monumental music scenes of Berlin and Detroit. The screening will be scored by musicians from both cities: Lucky Paul (Los Angeles/Detroit/Berlin), Sarah Farina (Berlin), and Sean Tate (Detroit) and will be streamed live by Detroit-based radio collective, the Bassment.
The Detroit-Berlin Connection, a 5013c nonprofit organization, has been strengthening existing relationships between artists in Detroit and Berlin since 2013, when it began changing the local narrative that only bad things happen at night. Together with Underground Resistance / Submerge Records (Detroit),
Tresor Berlin, and Your Mom’s Agency (Berlin), the DBC is telling the story of Detroit as a creative lighthouse, a place of artistic experimentation and entrepreneurial and social innovation. The Potential conference in Detroit is one of many events planned as part of Wunderbar Together, an initiative funded by the German Federal Foreign Office, implemented by the Goethe-Institut, and
with support from the Federation of German Industries (BDI). This year-long festival of over 1,500 events in all 50 states began in October 2018 and continues throughout 2019.
Tuesday, May 21 2019, 1PM-7PM
715 East Milwaukee Avenue, Detroit, MI 48202
1-2PM: Submerge – Networking and Tours of the Techno Museum
2-2:30PM: Walk over to Tangent and dining at Deutschtroit Food Truck
2:30-2:45PM: Welcome and Opening Remarks by Corn Harris & Angie Linder with poetry by T. Miller
2:45PM-3:15PM Building a strong creative community, one event at a time – Melissa Perales
3:15-4:15PM: 24-hour economy presentation by Mirik Milan & Lutz Leichsenring of VibeLab Berlin
4:15-4:30PM Break & Snacks
4:30-5:30PM: Panel discussion – Safe & Legal Path to 24 Hours feat. Detroit’s Night Ambassador Adrian Tonon
Ingrid LaFleur, Zach Brunell (Detroit Sound Bureau) and others for a fireside discussion about empowering & sustaining creatives in the city
6:15-7PM: Networking, Food Truck & Afterglow
Wednesday, May 22 2019, 10AM-10PM
4454 Woodward Ave, Detroit, MI 48201
10AM: Music production workshops
8PM: Film screening of Berlin: Symphony of a Metropolis
with live score by Lucky Paul, Sarah Farina, and Sean
Tate, live streaming by The Bassment.
Events are for all ages and free to the public.
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