The Cost of Creativity

When times are tough, one of the first things to get cut are the arts. But some arts advocates say the arts can play a big role in moving Michigan forward. For the radio documentary The Cost of Creativity, Michigan Radio’s Jennifer Guerra and Kyle Norris traveled the state and talked with people who have creative solutions for how to turn things around in Michigan.

Below you will find the audio and transcript of the radio documentary, the video "Artists at Work," and the stories and slideshows that were featured in the documentary.

And we'll continue to cover the arts. Send us your story ideas!

Share your comments on our Facebook page, or tweet us @MichiganRadio with hashtag #CostofCreativity

Ways To Connect

The Cost of Creativity

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Thanks to the following Michigan musicians, whose songs are featured in the documentary:

Ben Benjamin, Luke Winslow-King, Midwest Product, and The Red Sea Pedestrians.

Photo courtesy of Andrew Moore

Art vs. ruin porn

Photographers from around the world parachute in to take pictures of Detroit’s crumbling, abandoned landscape. Some call it journalism or art; others call it ruin porn.

Kyle Norris / Michigan Radio

In the basement of a church in Grand Rapids, there's a rehearsal for the Beginners Swing Band.

Most of the musicians here are in their sixties and seventies.

Russ Hicks

Russ Hicks has recently experienced the death of his spouse and the loss of his job of 22 years. The thing helping him cope, is his writing. Two big changes recently happened to Russ Hicks.

Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

Cross Village in northern Michigan is like a lot of small, rural towns in the state, where money is tight and jobs are scarce. And when winter comes around and all the tourists are gone, the outlook is even bleaker. So a group of women started up a cottage industry of rug making to help locals sustain themselves through the lean months.

23-year old Jasmine Petrie wears her hair in pigtails and has tattoos on her back and arms; she looks more like a rock star than a rug weaver.

Jennifer Guerra / Reporter

Struggling artists generally don't make a lot of money, so they tend to live in grittier parts of the city where rent is really cheap. Inevitably, they spruce things up, more people move in, rent goes up, and artists are priced out. To ensure that doesn't happen to them in Detroit, a group of artists are taking matters into their own hands.

Gerry Bose has worked as paint contractor for much of his life in new construction. He actually painted the insides of a lot of new mc-mansions. But when the housing bubble burst a few years ago, Bose lost 80% of his work. Since then he's laid off his two employees, and he's had to scramble for work as a painter.

But he's also had more time and energy to book jobs as a juggler.

Gerry Bose is setting up his show at the Grant Public Library, about 30 miles north of Grand Rapids. Bose cracks-open what looks like a pirate chest.

Jennifer Guerra

It costs a lot of money for Michigan students to go to college. Tuition is up at nearly every Michigan school, and the $4,000 once awarded to students under the state's Promise Scholarship has been cut. As a result, lots of students have to take out loans or work to pay for school.

Jennifer Guerra

Like a lot of Michigan cities, Jackson is hurting. The economy is in the tank, the unemployment rate is high, and stores continue to close, including the few places in town where teenagers could go hear live music. That has left those who live there with not much to do on a Friday night.

Tori Zackery

Kids can learn a lot about a place through books, television, and the web. But one Kalamazoo woman thinks you can't really know a place or its people, unless you go and visit, which is why she started a travel club.

About twenty girls and several adults board an Amtrak train in Kalamazoo. "We're going on a mystery train ride with the travel club," exclaims travel club member Claire Khabeiry. Like a lot of kids in the group she's never been on train before.

A Kalamazoo arts organization that was considered a real success story has shut its doors, for now. Michigan Radio's Kyle Norris looks at why The Smart Shop Metal Arts Center has closed and what the future may hold.