By Kathy Hill, Executive Director
Who we are: Art Reach of Mid Michigan is a 501(c)3 non-profit local arts organization with the mission of keeping arts and culture alive in our community. We are located in beautiful downtown Mt. Pleasant, MI. The organization was founded in 1981 and so will celebrate our 35th birthday this year with a celebration open to the public on Thursday, June 9.
Art Reach has a 14 person Board of Directors and a 6 person Board of Trustees. We take pride in the fact that several members of our Boards have been involved in Art Reach since it’s inception! We have a volunteer base of over 200 people and could not survive without them. The Art Reach staff consists of 1 part time and 3 full time positions, so the importance of our volunteers cannot be overstated.
What we do: Recognizing the enormous role that art plays in creating a healthy, vibrant community makes programming at Art Reach even more important. We partner with Mt. Pleasant businesses, the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe, CMU, the Morey Foundation and local media outlets to keep the public involved and engaged in art and cultural activities. In 2015, we hosted over 20 programs – each with their own set of events. Some of our ongoing programs include:
Art Walk Central: A community wide art competition and exhibit that features artwork displayed in 20 local businesses, galleries, and outdoor locations. Artists compete for over $10,000 in prizes. This program also includes more than 25 events in a three week period aimed at exposing our community to unique, engaging art activities and experiences. In 2015, more than 11,000 people participated in Art Walk Central by entering, voting, participating in a class or workshop, or attending an event.
Banner Festival: 333 vinyl banners are painted by school students and community members. These banners are then displayed on light poles in downtown Mt. Pleasant, Shepherd, and on Pickard Street in Union Township. This program has been the catalyst for neighboring communities such as Ithaca, Alma, and Big Rapids to start their own banner programs.
Picture Program: More than 100 art docents visit 25 local elementary schools monthly to share famous artwork prints with students. This program was created more than 30 years ago, so it’s not unusual for docents to be past students who are now parents!
Kids Calendar: Each year artwork from local elementary students is used to create a calendar. A reception is held for these children and the calendar is given to their school for display.
CMU Kids Concert: Art Reach partners with the CMU Music Department annually to present a concert to local 4th grade students – many of whom are visiting a symphony hall for the first time.
Art Reach Gift Shop: 150 Michigan artists sell their unique art work in the Art Reach consignment shop.
Scholarships: Art Reach offers two scholarships. The Folkert Scholarship is offered in partnership with the General Federated Women’s Club, and allows an 8th grade student to attend Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp. The Stephenson Scholarship is for creative writing and is offered to a graduating senior.
Chair Affair: This fund raiser is one of the best known programs Art Reach offers. Adirondack chairs are made by local builders and then painted by local artists. Once completed, the chairs are available for purchase via silent auction. This year, the event will take place in June.
Gallery Exhibits: The Morey Family Gallery is a 900 sq. foot exhibit space which hosts 8 gallery exhibits annually. In addition, we partner with Veterans Memorial Library, the Isabella County Commission on Aging, MidMichigan Health, and McLaren Central Michigan for off site gallery exhibits.
Day with the Artists: Twice annually, artists spend a day at a local elementary school to share their talents with students.
Wellspring Literary Series: Art Reach partners with the CMU English Department to bring in published poets to read their current work. In addition, CMU writing students and CMU musicians present their work for the public.
Let’s Do Lunch: This program provides an hour of art or culture while you bring your lunch and relax in the Morey Family Gallery.
Classes: Our new classroom addition provides a state of the art facility for children and adults alike. We have monthly Painting the Town events for adults to bring their favorite beverage and spend the evening with canvas and paint brush in hand!
How we’re funded: Art Reach is funded by membership donations, local and state grants and by user fees for programs we offer, such as the gift shop and classes.
Information about all Art Reach programs is available at www.artreachcenter.org. As a GreenTree Community Partner, Art Reach offers 10% off store wide (Not to be combined with any other offer or Art Reach Member discount.) to Co-op Owners.