Thank you, Living Arts!

Executive Director    Cara Graninger

Executive Director

Cara Graninger

I joined Living Arts nine years ago, after contributing to “El Arte Alliance” as a teaching artist, program manager, and then director, for twelve years prior. “El Arte” was a passionate coalition of schools, teachers, arts organizations and artists which became Living Arts’ school-based arts education division when El Arte merged with Living Arts in 2008. The merger was based on the hope that re-inventing Living Arts would ensure the long-lasting positive impact of both El Arte’s school-based programs and Living Arts’ out-of-school programs.  Our hope has definitely come to fruition!

  • Living Arts now consistently engages several thousand youth, teachers, parents and community members in meaningful arts learning every year--and it feels like we’re just getting started!

  • To bring our programs to youth in schools across Detroit and in our community studios at the Mexicantown Mercado we’re employing ten dedicated staff and providing ongoing work opportunities to 30 Detroit artists who fuel our programs with their love, talent, and skillful teaching artistry.

  • Thanks to generous support from our stakeholders including 12 committed board members, we’re now investing nearly $1,000,000 in Detroit youth, schools and neighborhoods every year!

I developed my administrative and leadership skills with “Cara-cteristic” determination to guide Living Arts through the challenges we faced as we grew, and I’m very proud of our successes.  I made Detroit my home in 1993 after working with some of the city’s most passionate and effective community activists the previous summer. It has been very satisfying to grow Living Arts’ powerful work in my chosen community.  However, Living Arts would never have succeeded without the inspiring contributions of its founding Executive Director, Chris Blunden, and its founding Artistic Director, Christine Allen Carlson, who steered Living Arts through 2010 and 2015, respectively.  I want to thank them as well as Living Arts’ founding board for taking multiple leaps of faith, love and labor to launch Living Arts.

I’m also grateful to the talented staff who strongly invested in Living Arts’ mission over the years, contributing remarkable strengths in programming and operations. And a special shout-out to Living Arts’ current team who will help our incoming executive director develop Living Arts in its next era.  I’m leaving my role at Living Arts to invest more of my time and energy directly into dance, teaching, and community activism. It’s a huge blessing to know as I leave that Living Arts’ staff, board and community partners will develop our work for years to come.

Last, but actually foremost, I thank Living Arts’ amazing students and your caring parents and schoolteachers for partnering with us to bring back the benefits of high-caliber arts education to Detroit for the last two decades. We couldn’t have succeeded without your enthusiastic participation and expert feedback, and I celebrate my opportunity to continue working with you as a teaching artist and fellow Living Arts supporter! Thanks to you, I’ve received this gift described by an 8th-grade poet in one of Living Arts’ programs: “Faith is everywhere you go. It’s a never-ending feeling….Whenever you need it, just call It.”