Arts and culture are woven into the fabric of Detroit’s identity. Currently, UNESCO recognizes 40 cities across the globe as UNESCO Cities of Design and Detroit is distinguished as the only one in the United States.

Each September, Detroit celebrate its dedication to arts and culture through the Detroit Month of Design. The Gilbert Family Foundation is a proud sponsor of the Detroit Month of Design and is the lead sponsor for Eastern Market After Dark (EMAD), the signature event of the month.

Eastern Market is an elaborate open warehouse market in Detroit which showcases vendors selling everything from organic produce to fresh baked goods to original art and crafts every weekend. For EMAD, the market opens up for a night purely focused on design, offering wares from galleries, vendors and retailers, as well as brand activations, food and live music. It’s a hugely popular annual event that brings together residents and visitors from all walks of life to connect with art, culture, and local businesses. Since it began in 2012, EMAD has grown to attract thousands of attendees – 30,000 people came in 2022 alone.


Eastern Market After Dark 2023
Snapshots from Eastern Market After Dark, 2023.


EMAD is organized by our partners at Design Core Detroit, which champions design-driven businesses and their role in strengthening Detroit’s economy and is the official steward of UNESCO’s City of Design designation. “Cultural events like Eastern Market After Dark (EMAD) are vehicles and strategies for instilling city pride, boosting local morale, and connecting individuals to the spaces and places that make Detroit unique,” said Kiana Wenzell, Co-Executive Director, Design Core Detroit. “Eastern Market After Dark is one of the reasons why people love Detroit. The event highlights the wide spectrum of talent in our city.”

This year, we took the opportunity to incorporate another of our investments into EMAD. In partnership with Strategic Community Partners, we invited nine of our Thriving Neighborhoods Fund (TNF) cohort nonprofits to participate in EMAD and share with visitors how their grassroots organizations are supporting local Detroit neighborhoods. TNF participants said it gave Detroiters and visitors the chance to engage, donate and learn more about their work.

For us, EMAD is the perfect platform to showcase the art, culture and people that make our city so special – a city that is different by design. Wenzell agreed. “We are grateful for the continued investment in our creative community,” she said. “Eastern Market After Dark and the Detroit Month of Design are made possible through the support of organizations like the Gilbert Family Foundation. Our work connects local designers and creatives to each other and exposes them to new audiences and opportunities – all of which helps increase the value of design for business and community. The outcomes of this work is a city that is more vibrant and accessible.”