It’s imaginative. It’s edgy. And it’s certainly not what you’d expect to find at your parents’ Detroit Institute of Arts. But then again, the Marble Lounge isn’t an event your mom or dad would likely attend.
That’s because the once-a-month, Thursday night program doesn’t begin until 10 p.m. – when most parental units are more inclined to dress for bed than for a night on the town. Plus, its mix of performance art, live music and DJs isn’t the type of entertainment that appeals to an older crowd.
Instead, the Marble Lounge, which opens March 20, was created to attract a demographic most museums across the country rarely see wandering their hallways: 18-to-35-year-olds. “This is an age group that tends to step away from visiting fine art museums, and they don’t come back to us until they’re 35-plus with kids,” explained the DIA’s director of marketing, Jim Boyle. “So strategically, that’s a big part of what we’re trying to do. But also, it’s a part of the new DIA in trying to freshen up our entire program offering.”
That was a lesson well-learned when the newly-renovated DIA staged a 32-hour grand re-opening last November and found itself packed with young adults at 4 a.m. So event organizers decided to create an event just for them. “For that age group, the weekend kind of starts on a Thursday – for some, on Wednesday,” Boyle laughed. “So we didn’t think it was too big of a risk to do this, that’s for sure.”
The Marble Lounge is designed to appeal to arts-loving, urban-inclined adults from all walks of life who are interested in edgy, experimental and thought-provoking programs. Held in the marble-clad Prentis Court, it’s a “come as you are” night out, Boyle said, with a cash bar and “late-night food.” And people over the age of 35 will indeed be welcome.
Yet it’s also an art-based event, he emphasized. “Whether it’s performance art or whether it’s going to connect to something that’s in the galleries – that’s a big piece of what we’re trying to do, because we have such great assets. But every one of these will have an art piece, a music piece – those are two key ‘grabs’ for this group of folks.”
The inaugural event will feature performance artist Jeff Karolski, whose work is “half two-dimensional, half-performance/sculpture.” “It’s really wonderful stuff that he does,” Boyle said. “He likes to involve his body in sound sculpture.”
Live music will be provided by Detroit’s own critically-acclaimed post-rock/space rock band, Paik. And DJ Ben Blackwell will keep things moving throughout the night.
Then for the May 22 event – it’s skipping April – live boxing and wrestling will be presented in Prentis Court as a tie-in to the museum’s current exhibit, “Life’s Pleasures.” “I don’t think anyone’s ever done anything like this before in a museum. And then the ring will be transformed into a stage, and a punk band is going to play. It’s going to be different,” Boyle chuckled.
Plans for future months haven’t been finalized, but Boyle expects most will be scheduled on the third Thursday of every month. For now, “We’re just thrilled to kick one of these off and see how it goes,” he said.
In Prentis Court inside the Detroit Institute of Arts, 5200 Woodward Ave., Detroit. Thursday, March 20 from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. Tickets: $10, ages 18 and up. Cash bar and food available. For information: 313-833-7900 or http://www.dia.org