The Greater Lansing area boasts a strong arts community thanks to the Broad Art Lab and Lansing Arts Council, among others, that ensure the community is engaged with the arts.
The Broad Art Lab is dedicated to community participation, programming and outreach. In an effort to involve the local community in unprecedented ways, it hosts “Community Open Calls,” where the general public can propose their own ideas, projects, events or workshops to host at the lab.
“Art is what gives a community its soul, its individuality, its life force, its very uniqueness,” says Ben Graham, founder of the Lansing-based visual strategy and design business Ben Graham Group, Inc. “This creates positive moments and memories from this simple interaction. Art is lasting, art is important!”
Graham was a member of the previous review committee, made up of local businesses and artists, that judge the submitted applications to ultimately select which get put on at the Broad Art Lab.
Using the Broad Art Lab’s rubric, he looked for “community building, participatory, educational, collaborative and capacity building concepts,” that would ultimately better the local community.
“It allowed me to be introduced to and collaborate with other committee members,” said Graham, “and offered something creative and hopefully innovative and entertaining to the community.”
Some of these events chosen include a Simple Books Workshop, Using the Art of Improv to Save the World, Habibi Dancers, Games for Circus and Art of Infertility.
“There were so many wonderful full grown ideas and also seeds of ideas that excited me, not just as an artist, but as a member of this community,” said Kate Cosgrove, another member of the previous review committee. “Multiple times I would think, ‘I want to go to this event! I want to experiment with that workshop process! I want my family to have this experience together!’”
To Cosgrove, there is a great necessity for art in the local Greater Lansing Community.
“Art is creative problem solving,” said Cosgrove, “and in a time that is very complicated socially, politically, etc., accessible art is so important. Inspired brains grow the solutions that can untangle, fix or at least ease many of the woes that plague us. And allowing all people to come together and see each other… in a meaningful way, well that’s the kind of community I want to live in. A place where we are thriving instead of just being stuck on the ‘survive’ setting.”
With the Broad Art Lab continually supporting and providing community engagement, and through its support by the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs, this kind of a community is existing in the Greater Lansing Area.
Local artist Christine Beals currently has an exhibition, “Nature’s Tapestry,” on display by the Lansing Arts Council, which also gave her the title of “artist of the month.”
Beals uses social media to share her art and engage with her community. It was through this engagement, on her Instagram account where she posts all her art, that she began talking to the woman in charge of designing the local billboards. Through talking, it was suggested that Beals seek out the Arts Council, and she was ultimately given the opportunity to have her art displayed.
To Beals, the reasons for why she makes her art is simple: “To make you smile… I think art is beautiful and it should be everywhere.”
Though art is not “everywhere” in the local community, it is an important piece of it, thanks to both the Broad Art Lab and the Lansing Arts Council.