Freedom Arts Festival



Artwork by Jesse Kassel


A Knight Arts Challenge winner, the Freedom Arts Festival connects—and reconnects!—Detroiters to their neighborhood parks. Featuring music, dance, storytelling, and art reflecting Detroit’s multicultural tapestry, the festival brings together freedom, racial justice, history, and connection to place through arts & culture. Event details are below:


July 16, 1-4 pm: Chandler Park

Chandler Park Conservancy presents its second annual Community Arts and Music Festival, in partnership with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. Hands-on and interactive programming will be offered throughout the day. Featured artists include: Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Marion Hayden, Motor City Street Dance Academy, Pewabic Pottery, Arts & Scraps.


August 17, 5:30 pm: Dequindre Cut ​​Celebrate culture in the Cut with an evening of traditional Taiwanese puppet art and one of Detroit's best soul musicians. On August 17th at the Campbell Terrace on the Dequindre Cut the Michigan Taiwanese Association will present a traditional puppet art workshop at 5:30. After enjoy D.Cipher's weekly music series which will feature soul and R&B performer Al Bettis. Hosted by the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy.


August 20, 12-4 pm: Belle Isle

Join Belle Isle Conservancy for Community Fun Day at the Belle Isle Aquarium. An afternoon of art, music, dance, storytelling, activities, food trucks, and more.


August 20, 1-5 pm: Palmer Park In partnership with the Sarah E. Ray Project, People for Palmer Park will celebrate Sarah Ray's legacy through music — jazz, blues, gospel, multi-genre — poetry, dance, and art that explore both the life of Ray, and the fights for equality, social justice, freedom, and hope that she and others inspire. Featured artists include: A. Spencer Barefield Quintet, Detroit-Windsor Dance Academy and DWDA Artistic Director Debra White-Hunt, and Bill Harris & Robert Jones. Both Barefield and White-Hunt are creating new works to accompany narratives written by writer/artist Desiree Cooper about Sarah E. Ray. 1 pm: Bill Harris and Robert Jones

2 pm: Detroit-Windsor Dance Academy

3 pm: A. Spencer Barefield Quintet


August 28, 9 am - 5 pm: Clark Park Enjoy a fun-filled day with arts, culture, and sports, as Clark Park Coalition presents its 7th annual COPA Motor City soccer tournament. The event will feature live entertainment, food trucks, local artists, dancing, mercado, sports, and kids activities.


September 10, 1-3 pm: New Center Park

“The FLY I DROWN Fables” is a film folktale that honors the self-sovereignty of Black women and girls. The film begins in a post-Great Migration home in Detroit, and tells an interwoven tale of 2 characters: Nyeusi and Elder. Nyeusi, a Sankofa bird from the Detroit River, is Elder’s child from another lifetime. One day, Elder has a dream where Nyuesi reminds Elder how to release the shame from her body in order to fly. The film is directed by Devin Drake, features choreography by performance artist Jennifer Harge, sound by Sterling Toles, costuming by Sabrina Nelson, and an original folktale narrative written by Alexis Pauline Gumbs.


September 10, 1-4 pm: Rouge Park Friends of Rouge Park and the Detroit Sugarbush Project celebrate Etta S. Wilson, an ornithologist and journalist who spent her early career birding in Rouge Park. This event celebrates Wilson's indigenous heritage and rededicates a Rouge Park trail in her honor. Featured artists include: Vibes with the Tribes


September 23, 6-7:30 pm: New Center Park Join poets from Room Project, a collective of femme, nonbinary, & trans writers & artists, for a night of poetry in New Center Park, presented by Midtown Detroit, Inc. These five celebrated poets, including Kresge Artist fellows, educators, organizers, & activists, will read work exploring identity & community, grief & joy, & the power of our singular & collective voices. Including Jassmine Parks, Leah Proctor Ford, MARS., Ollie Dodt, and Rosie DeSantis.


October 1, 1-3 pm: New Center Park

Just Place: Just Place: Race, Parks, and Public Space in Detroit

Parks and public spaces can beautify our city, promote physical and mental health, and help build social cohesion—but people's experience with parks is influenced by history, policies, and practices. We invite you to a conversation on how systemic racism impacts Detroiters’ experiences with their parks. This is the culminating event of the Detroit Parks Coalition’s Freedom Arts Festival and a pre-conference event for New Detroit’s Just Lead: Advancing Racial Equity conference.


October 1, evening: Eliza Howell Park

Join Sidewalk Detroit for an evening of healing and celebration. Featuring a community sing led by renowned Detroit gospel singers, dance and drum performances, and a candle light healing ceremony, this evening is an opportunity to gather and engage with the community in one of Detroit's natural gems.