The African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund (AACHAF), a program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, announced its award of $100,000 to Detroit Sound Conservancy. With more than $80 million in funding, the Action Fund is the largest U.S. resource dedicated to the preservation of African American historic places.
Detroit Sound Conservancy is one of 33 organizations in 2022 to receive a total of $3 million in funding from the Action Fund to protect and preserve sites representing African American history.
The Blue Bird Inn, a birthplace of bebop jazz and a hearth for the Black community before Motown, closed as a victim of neighborhood disinvestment. After a decade of preservation activism, this grant will provide Detroit Sound Conservancy decisive funds for rehabilitation.
“This project means that the passion Detroit Sound Conservancy has for nurturing and preserving the ‘voice’ of our community will become tangible and real at The Blue Bird Inn. Receiving this grant means we are on the path to fulfilling our mission of providing a community hearth of legacy: a place to be together and express our cultural mandate of helping Detroit musicians and all those who use music and sound to creatively ‘pass on’ the powerful legacy of Detroit music. For our community, this project will allow The Bird to become again a place to gather and to educate. It will be for our children to learn new ways of being in community, to connect with Detroit artist mentors, to access archival collections and to hear great live music in our neighborhood.”~ Michelle Jahra McKinney, Detroit Sound Conservancy
Since its inception in 2017, the Action Fund has supported 160 places through its National Grant Program for a total investment of $12.4 million. This year’s list further demonstrates the beauty and complexity of African American life, and includes historic sites tied to Black arts, culture, civic engagement, entrepreneurship, sports, medicine, education, religion, and social justice. These often-overlooked places hold aspects of history that must be protected—and used to draw inspiration and wisdom for the benefit of all Americans.
“The cultural landscapes and historic buildings featured in this year’s list showcase the breadth and depth of African American life, history, and architecture across generations,” said Brent Leggs, Executive Director, AACHAF. “At the National Trust, we aim to broaden the public’s understanding of the Black experience in America, while also underscoring the very urgent need to identify and protect these sites for the benefit of the communities they have long served. We commend this year’s grantees for advancing this movement and stewarding these invaluable cultural assets into the future.”
Action Fund grants support preservation efforts across four categories:
- Building Capital: Supporting the restoration and rehabilitation of cultural assets important to Black history
- Increasing Organizational Capacity: Providing leadership staff positions within non-profits stewarding Black heritage sites
- Project Planning and Development: Funding planning activities tied to the development of preservation plans, feasibility studies and fundraising
- Programming and Education: Advancing storytelling through public education and creative interpretation
Learn more about the Action Fund and the 2022 recipients at www.savingplaces.org/actionfund.
About the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund
The African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund is a program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation in partnership with the Ford Foundation, The JPB Foundation, the Mellon Foundation, and other partners, working to make an important and lasting contribution to our cultural landscape by elevating the stories and places of African American resilience, activism, and achievement. Visit savingplaces.org/actionfund.
About the National Trust for Historic Preservation
About Detroit Sound Conservancy
Detroit Sound Conservancy (DSC) is the only archive devoted to the preservation and celebration of Detroit music. Through archival practices, education programs, performances and rehabilitation initiatives, DSC expands access to and evidence of the history that proves Detroit is the most influential musical city in the world. Detroiters innovated techno, funk, rock and jazz, and have shaped nearly every musical genre, from punk and rap to soul and blues. Across generations, deep commitment and fearlessness mark the essence of the Detroit sound. DSC spreads its resources to support archival practices that amplify this cultural spectrum and safeguard its history—of people, movements, legends and lore. Through this work, DSC preserves the vivid memory of musical movements, uplifts the agency of artistic legacies, counteracts reductive representation and puts listening at the center of community.