The functional glass community is defined, in part, by the technical mastery and mind-blowing aesthetic of high-end art pipes. But in equal measure, philanthropy defines this growing segment of the glass art community. One key player in organizing charitable events within the pipe community is Allison Key, founder and director of the well-known Michigan Glass Project (MGP), a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. The 2019 MGP will be held July 19 - 21 at the Russell Industrial Center, Detroit, Michigan.
MGP’s mission is to unite artists through charitable events that create and foster positive change in the community.Artwork created on site at the yearly happening is sold, auctioned, or raffled to raise money for a philanthropic cause. A large silent auction is held during MGP with artwork continually being added throughout the weekend. Profits generated above expenses to hold the event are donated to the yearly charity.
Since its inception in 2012, MGP has donated $36,000 to The Belle Isle Aquarium in Detroit, the nation’s oldest operating aquarium. In 2015, MGP began working with Art Road Nonprofit, an organization dedicated to returning art classes to Detroit area public schools, donating $40,000 to the cause. MGP’s 2016 event double that donation to $80,000. Previously Art Road was only able to provide art to grades K-5 at Spain Elementary, but the increased funds allowed middle schoolers at that school to be added to the roster.
MGP’S 2017 donation marked a milestone in giving as the organization hit its $100,000 goal. Art Road used the additional money to add art class to a fourth school. The following year’s $125,000 resulted in the addition of art classes at two Ecorse schools. Thanks in part to MGP, Art Road now provides complete art class curriculum including instructors and supplies to over 2,200 Metro Detroit students at six schools.
To document this unique and highly successful project, Dan Collins, filmmaker who worked on Marble Slinger’s 2012 Degenerate Artmovie and his own documentary about Marcel Braun’s Project 33, will produce a documentary film on Key and MGP. A Kickstarter to raise funds for Collins’ film will be launched next week some time, around the first of July 2019.
Key is co-owner of Urban Pheasant Glass Studio, the Crystal Dragon at the Michigan Renaissance Festival, a wholesale glass business called Key Glass Co. and a retail location in Detroit called Motown Shakedown. In 2018, Key also became co-owner of Glassroots Art Show, a fixture in the industry as a multi-faceted event bringing together suppliers, toolmakers, high-end artists, production blowers, distribution companies, galleries, and head shops. After celebrating a decade in Madison, Wisconsin, in 2019 Glassroots is moving to Asheville, North Carolina, where the trade show will be held October 7 through 9.