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Quality of life

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Three of Detroit’s most traditional-minded (some would say "elitist") arts institutions — the Detroit Institute of Arts, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and the Michigan Opera Theatre — have been bending over backward, forward and sideways in recent years in hopes of reaching out to the greater community. In each case, opening doors and minds through community outreach really depends on the tireless imaginations of administrators and educators with more in mind than keeping the country-club set entertained.

As we go to press, one of Detroit’s leaders in cross-cultural arts programming, David DiChiera, is in Washington, D.C., accepting one of this year’s six Bridge Builders Awards from Partners for Livable Communities, an organization which recognizes "individuals and institutions for building bridges of understanding and cooperation across racial, social, economic and political divides and creating fruitful and lasting partnerships for the betterment of their communities." Other winners this year include Bette Midler and Earvin "Magic" Johnson.

DiChiera, as Michigan Opera Theatre founder and general director, has overseen (among numerous other projects) the establishment of the Detroit Opera House, a world-class performance facility with an outreach program that touches the lives of nearly 100,000 children and adults each year. With an expanded schedule of multicultural opera and dance events, workshops and classes, MOT is at the hub of downtown revitalization, poised to have the kind of impact on Motor City life that any self-respecting flagship should.

And while they’re handing out awards, let’s remember DIA head of education Nancy Jones — a relentless innovator if there ever was one. George Tysh is the Metro Times arts editor. E-mail him at gtysh@metrotimes.com

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