March 5, 2015

Arts Council of Greater Lansing seeks recognition from Clinton County

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By Jonathon Chun
Clinton County Chatter

The Arts Council of Greater Lansing is celebrating its 50th Anniversary in 2015, and its accomplishments are easily recognized. However, it took Clinton County a little longer to show the recognition that the art community was looking for.

Both Ingham County and Eaton County have granted the council a tribute, but Clinton County did not get the memo.

Council Executive Director Deborah Mikula presented her plea at the Clinton County Board of Commissioners meeting on Feb. 24. She did not make a demand for a money contribution; all Mikula wanted was a simple tribute. Board Chairperson Robert Showers addressed Mikula’s concern and gave her a reason for optimism.

“I think we all recognize the importance of creativity; and it’s not truly economics, we also have to understand that artists in all of its forms is an important part of culture,” Showers said.

While Showers kind words were a sign of encouragement, program manager Josh Holiday said that the council still had not received any type of recognition as of March 3.

“We have a frame ready in the middle of our wall,” Mikula said. “And we hope that Clinton County will also come through this year as we celebrate our 50th anniversary.”

Members of state government such as Gov. Rick Snyder, Sen. Curtis Hertel Jr., East Lansing Mayor Nathan Triplett and Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero have recognized the council, according to Mikula.

Global Balance by council member Christoph Spath

Global Balance by council member Christoph Spath

Sculptural Improvisation II by council member Richard Hunt

Sculptural Improvisation II by council member Richard Hunt

“A lot of our work takes place here in Clinton County,” Mikula said. “Most of our work surrounds funding opportunities. We have a very large endowment fund – about $1.9 million – and through the interest of that endowment fund, we help support the artists and the arts and culture organizations that are here in Clinton County.”

Mikula said that one-quarter of their membership resides in Clinton County.

“They do all the creative work, but we’re here to help build that foundation by which they do their work better,” Mikula said. “They are small business people, and we want to make sure that they are included in some sort of capacity building project.”

The council supports artists in the areas surrounding Lansing, which includes Ingham County, Eaton County and Clinton County. Around 80 organizations are currently members and the group supports about 200 individual artists.

 

Untitled sculpture by council member Russell Thayer

Untitled sculpture by council member Russell Thayer

 

“Our mission is to work in partnership with organizations, municipalities and businesses from the tri-counties,” Mikula said. “We are here to help to support, to strengthen and to promote arts culture and creativity in the capital region.”

Mikula and her board members work with all types of artists. Sculptor and Williamston High School teacher Paul Nilsson is just one example.

“The arts council pays attention to opportunities for people to exhibit their work and this was the primary reason I joined,” Nilsson said. “They also offer great grant opportunities that get you thinking about doing your work.”