View All News
Dec 4, 2015

Art on the big screen coming to Detroit

DETROIT – Cobo Center’s giant new video screen will become an impressive new vehicle for artists to display their work for millions of people, thanks to a grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

“The large size of the screen will allow thousands of people to see the works each day from nearby buildings, during events at Hart Plaza, from the street and during conferences and events at Cobo Center,” said Maureen Devine, Cobo art curator. “We have nearly 1.3 million visitors each year at the convention center, while millions more attend the Freedom Festival fireworks, the Jazz Fest, the Movement Electronic Music Festival, and the nationally televised America’s Thanksgiving Parade, which ends a few blocks away.”

Wider and narrower than professional and college basketball courts, Cobo Center’s high-definition LED marquee actually covers a larger area – 4,800 square feet compared with 4,700 for NBA and NCAA playing surfaces.

“But no one has to buy a ticket or wait in line to see the fabulous work of the local, regional, national and international artists we’ll feature at Cobo with the help of the Knight Foundation grant,” Devine said.

The $40,000 grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation was one of 57 winners that will share $2.5 million in this year’s Knight Arts Challenge Detroit. Now in its third year in Detroit, these winners emerged from more than 1,000 submissions.

Cobo must provide matching funds for the project which it hopes to obtain from a combination of corporate and private sponsors. It is anticipated that the digital art program will begin by the summer of 2016.

“Everywhere you go in Detroit, in your car or on foot, we’d like for you to have an encounter with art. Cobo Center is providing a large-scale platform to help accomplish that,” said Victoria Rogers, vice president for arts at the Knight Foundation.

Cobo Center will present a monthly series of digital art on the marquee, making Cobo Square – the large public plaza outside that was created as part of Cobo’s $279 million capital improvements – a prime gathering place and viewing area.

A library of videos will be created that we will continue to show for an agreed-upon length of time. There also is a plan for a “streaming station” that will allow visitor access to audio associated with the works of art.

The big video screen contains 3.8 million diodes with a total pixel count of 2048x384. The screen has the ability to present images across its full width, in three 16 feet by 9 feet sections, and a variety of custom configurations. The system has the ability to deliver localized audio.

“I’m sure we’ll create a stir downtown, but our aim really is to stir the creative minds of the state’s art community,” said Patrick Bero, CEO of the Detroit Regional Convention Facility Authority, which has controlled Cobo Center since September 2009.

Devine will oversee the project with the help of a digital media curator, Alivia Zivich, who has agreed to work with Cobo to identify a selection of digital works to present. TVS Communication Solutions will offer technical assistance and Cobo Center staff will offer general support needs.

Through this program, Cobo will present spectacular art in downtown Detroit, drawing attention to the creative spirit in the city, and encourage regional artists with this additional medium to present their work.

About the Detroit Regional Convention Facility Authority
The DRCFA was created in 2009 to operate Cobo Center in Detroit under a long-term lease from the City of Detroit. The DRCFA Board of Directors is comprised of five representatives selected by the Governor of Michigan, the Mayor of Detroit, and the county executives of Wayne, Oakland and Macomb Counties. The DRCFA receives funding from revenues at Cobo Center as well as support from the state's Convention Fund. For more information, visit

About the Knight Foundation
Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. The foundation believes that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit

DRCFA Contact Information
Detroit Regional Convention Facility Authority
1 Washington Blvd, Suite 401
Detroit, MI 48226
Phone: 313-877-8777

Media Inquiries

All media inquiries should be directed to:
Sara Campbell
Lovio George Communications + Design
[email protected]