For a long time, we took honeybees for granted, only recently realizing that these seemingly ubiquitous pollinators are crucial to our agricultural structure and crop production. Artists, then, are like the honeybees of our communities, and their metaphorical pollination, their creativity, enriches the cultural development of the region. But just like bees, our artists are not impervious or wholly self-sustaining against the whims or economic shifts in the market. Plus, they need space! Great art can’t blossom indefinitely from a cluttered basement, nor can music progress from inside a garage.
Grove Studios wants to be the conservational keepers of a colony of artists. “We’re working to serve the community that we love; the community of Ypsi and Washtenaw County, and even southeast Michigan,” said local musician, entrepreneur and Grove co-founder Rick Coughlin. “Musicians like us, and other independent creatives, are all trying to make…! We want to help them make! We, ourselves, make! For Grove, it’s not just providing professional work—and collaborative spaces; it’s also about how we are all learners and we thrive in that collaboration.”
Space to grow
Grove’s team and advisory board are establishing a comprehensive community space, distinguished by its compound of large individual shipping containers and main office at 884 Railroad St, assuring that artists have dedicated, physical space to work, rehearse or collaborate. “It’s evolved,” said co-founder/musician Erich Friebel, recalling Grove’s 2016 launch. “And it’s evolved not only into a monthly or hourly rehearsal space for bands and musicians, but also into being a co-op workplace for video, photography and podcast production, social media content creation, private lessons, for curated local artist galleries, or for art and music advocacy organizations like the Music & Arts Guild to meet other like-minded creatives.”
The mission, for the rest of 2018 and the years ahead, is to provide Washtenaw’s artists a hub, not just for incubating their own work, but to network with others on a similar mission. Beyond that, professionals like Stephanie Belcher of Green Bell Marketing can assist artists in the knottier aspects of a creative career, like understanding the tax code, along with upcoming workshops with practical pointers for navigating the ever-shifting music industry.
The necessity for this unique and specific community center has increased over time, said Coughlin. “I can’t tell you how many amazing and talented people I know that have jumped ship from Washtenaw County; how I’ve watched Ypsi itself change, and how Ann Arbor’s changed to the point where living in either place has become more difficult for artists to flourish because of the cost of living. You know, progress is progress, and it’s necessary to have a diverse economy, but we can’t take for granted the creative community that has always given this area such a big part of its charm. I moved here almost 25 years ago for that charm and I want to make sure that it stays by helping to build music and creative infrastructure.”
The Grove team is growing to include professionals from across the spectrum of arts and cultural fields, as well as advisers in legal/accounting and business. Ta’Te Hinds and the Evolve Creative collective recently got on board with Grove to help get the word out. Friebel emphasized how crucial the contributions of these collaborators, and the community, have been to Grove’s progress.
Coming up, Friebel said, a Grove podcast in partnership with Southfield-based 1 Shot Radio, along with the activation of an outdoor space in the courtyard, aided by Jo Diaspora (of DIYpsi) and other community members, for small scale events, popup workshops, clinics and seminars. Friebel explains that, while Grove isn’t a performance venue, the courtyard space is meant to give creatives a chance “…to step out of their studio for some fresh air and have a place to unwind for a bit; it’s an extension of the collaborative nature (of Grove).”
Grove Studios | 884 Railroad St, Ypsilanti
734-985-0838 | grovestudios.space