Detroit Bankruptcy Documentary Sparks Debate 8 Years After The Fact


Kresge Chairman Rip Rapson and other Detroit-area philanthropic leaders will gather Monday, May 2, to reflect on Detroit’s 2013-2014 bankruptcy proceedings and their impact on the arts and cultural sectors eight years later.

Panel follows sold-out premiere of documentary Gradually, Then Suddenly: Detroit’s Bankruptcy. An important part of its history is the Grand Bargain in which the foundations contributed $350 million to an $800 million fund that protected the Detroit Institute of Arts from creditor claims and lessened the blow of bankruptcy. to retirees in the city of Detroit. The Monday noon event at 1:45 pm is free and includes a boxed lunch and a link to watch the movie in advance, but registration is required.

The panel moderated by CultureSource CEO Omari Rush will also include Faye Nelson of the Kellogg Foundation; Mariam Noland, formerly the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan; Nate Wallace, Knight Foundation; and philanthropist Jim B. Nicholson. Nicholson, Kresge, Kellogg, Knight and the Community Foundation were all active participants in the Grand Bargain and contributors of funds.

CultureSource said the goal is for the panelists to “help contextualize the film in the current moment and have the experiences and dreams to invest in the arts and culture in Detroit.”

More than 2,000 viewers saw the film in person or virtually during the Wednesday night premiere as part of the Freep Film Festival. Producers History Making Productions have organized four free post-screenings in the surrounding area to encourage discussions of both the film and the issues it raises. Tickets are still available for two of them: Sunday, May 1, at 7:30 p.m. Bloomfield, ( RSVP to [email protected] and Wednesday, May 4, 7 pm, Michigan Theatre, Ann Arbor (RSVP to [email protected]).

CultureSource acted as a fiscal sponsor for the film producers, and The Kresge Foundation assisted with funding. The film won the 2021 Library of Congress Lavine/Ken Burns Award, which provided $200,000 in funding to complete.


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