— Emma Jean Woodyard
Downriver Council for the Arts executive director
By BROOKE STEVENSON
Sunday Times Newspapers
WYANDOTTE — Last weekend’s Downriver Council for the Arts Culture Fest and Cabaret Night exceeded organizers’ expectations.
Both events were held at the old Masonic Temple building the city bought last year in hopes of turning it into an arts center.
The evening included a performance by Kevin Sands, a free martini bar and refreshments.
Culture Fest is a regional event that features art and cultural organizations, performers and working artists. It included workshops, demonstration areas, working art studios, activity areas, gallery style exhibitions and performances in the building’s third-floor theater.
Nearly 1,000 people came through the building between the two events, said DCA Executive Director Emma Jean Woodyard.
She added that the council was pleased with the event’s move to Wyandotte, and that all the members were well received by the city.
“It was truly amazing,” she said. “We just can’t say enough good things about the way we were treated and the help that we got.”
The event was held for the first time last year at the Wayne County Community College District Downriver
Campus in Taylor. The decision to move it to Wyandotte was approved by the City Council in December.
Woodyard believes Culture Fest showcased what’s possible for the Masonic Temple building in the future.
“All three floors in the building were being used, both on Friday and Saturday,” she said.
On Saturday artists were working in the studio spaces that have been proposed for the building on the lower level.
About 38 art organizations from the Downriver area set up on the main level to speak to patrons, display art and hold demonstrations.
On the third-level stage, poets, dancers and speakers performed all day Saturday.
“It was just amazing,” Woodyard said. “From our point of view, Culture Fest Downriver was a tremendous success this year.
“One of the things we were trying to do by taking the event (to the Masonic Temple) was to show the possibility in that building,” she said. “It’s tremendous.
“I think that the people coming through on Saturday could see that.”
She said Friday’s event was equally successful in showcasing the building’s potential as an art center.
“It showed what could be done with that third level in terms of performances,” she said. “I think when people walked in they were truly, truly amazed at the transformation.”
The city currently is in the process of planning restoration of the building, but nothing has been finalized.