The BLKOUT Walls Mural Festival celebrates street art in Detroit Michigan. Conceived by Sydney G. James of Detroit Michigan, Thomas “Detour” Evans of Denver, Colorado and Max Sansing of Chicago to support local artists. Their mission is clear: to empower BIPOC voices and narratives while transforming neglected spaces in Detroit into vibrant art installations. This initiative not only enhances the city’s aesthetic appeal but also promotes community engagement and tourism.
The biannual festival runs about two weeks culminating with a community block party with music, food, giveaways, vendors, as well as interactive family-friendly fun. There is often a meet and greet with the artists.
The BLKOUT Walls Mural Festival was born out of the shared experiences of these artists. Thought their lives, they noticed a lack of compensation and racial diversity in mural festivals across the country. This is how they decided to kickstart the BLKOUT Walls Mural Festival in Detroit, with James’ hometown as the backdrop. Throughout the ten-day event, these talented women-led artists will create live murals.
The community focused event made its debut in summer 2021, and features approximately twenty murals in the North End and New Center areas of Detroit. The festival’s primary goal was to lay the foundation for an arts-based economic development initiative within the North End and surrounding communities.
BLKOUT Walls Mural Festival’s Commitment to Artists
What makes this mural festival so unique is its commitment to compensating artists fairly. They provide each artist with a fee per mural, covering lodging, meals, and transportation expenses. This ensures that the benefits of the creative economy extend to the communities as well as the talented artists themselves, regardless of where they call home. The BLKOUT Walls Mural Festival isn’t just about art; it’s a catalyst for change, empowerment, and economic growth in Detroit and beyond.