'We Are Culture Creators' collective in Detroit wins $500,000 youth music award

January 11, 2022, 2:41 PM

With three exclamation points, a Detroit media arts collective posts news Tuesday about a six-figure national prize: "Our co-directors have been selected to receive $500,000 to support the work of We Are Culture Creators."

The Bagley Street studio and mentoring program founded by Michael Reyes and Elizabeth Stone is among eight recipients of Lewis Prize for Music grants for creative youth development programs. Three others also get that top amount in multiyear support for "ambitious community change initiatives."

The third annual set of prizes come from a nonprofit founded by retired Phoenix real estate developer Daniel Lewis, a Cleveland high school teacher for three years before his business career.

"These funds will allow us to expand our work into multiple high schools, develop mental health space, create much-needed studios, continue our music exchange program and create multiple youth positions in music, art and culture," the local recipient says on two social media platforms.

We Are Culture Creators describes its mission as providing "arts and entrepreneurship education for young men of color in the city of Detroit, with an emphasis on professional development, strategic goal-setting, aesthetics and artistic integrity. ... Participants build self esteem, confidence and community." 

In addition to supplying professional video and recording equipment, the collective conducts workshops and guest speaker discussions about financial literacy, artist management, community organizing and business. "W.A.C.C. participants are becoming the next generation of Detroit entertainers and entrepreneurs," its website says.

We Are Culture Creators participated in a 2020 Juneteenth celebration downtown. (Photo: Instagram/@lilmonsterr)

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