Turning a Pivot Into a Pirouette

September Pop Up Event with Siso Dhladhla of Downtown Lansing, Inc.

I’m reflecting on our positive progress – feats our team at Lansing Art Gallery & Education Center has accomplished despite the global pandemic, economic crisis, and ongoing struggles against racial inequity. As we have passed more than six months since the state’s declaration of emergency, I’m proud of our work to-date and excited about what’s to come!

Experiencing the Arts as a Beacon of Hope

Whether you’re a parent supporting your children’s learning at home or you’re living alone during the pandemic, the arts offer hope, joy, and self-expression. We’ve proudly offered safe and innovative opportunities to experience the arts via online tours, public art, artist talks, and outdoor pop up art shops. Stay tuned for details about featured artists for our Outdoor Pop Up art sales in October and our newest education initiatives: Sock Creatures and our upcoming 4-part watercolor series with artist Michelle Detering!

Driving Change through Collaboration

Our community ranges from those who create art to those who appreciate art. We share a belief that access to the arts matters. During the pandemic, we’ve collaborated with The Robin Theatre and The Poetry Room on an event, participated in a mural at Old Town General Store with our Peckham Arts Alliance, and created a series of artist talks in conjunction with the Center for Interdisciplinarity at Michigan State University. Each of these efforts has supported Michigan artists and amplified our message about why the arts matter in our community.

Local Service
I’m thrilled to announce new roles for our staff team in support of the Mayor’s Arts and Culture Commission in Lansing! In addition to my recent election as Co-Chair of the Mayor’s Arts and Culture Commission alongside Stephanie Vasko, Katrina M. Daniels was appointed to the Commission (in addition to her ongoing role on the Public Art Committee), and Michelle Carlson joined the Arts Education Committee. You can see our annual report here. Special thanks to our Immediate Past Chair Erin Schor for her dedication, tenacious grace, and vision as our inaugural Chair over the Commission’s first two years. In the coming year, the commission has recommitted to listening to, amplifying, and responding to the needs of our local creatives and creative-supporting organizations in an inclusive fashion.

Statewide News

The Michigan Arts Education Instruction and Assessment project continues to advance creativity in arts education. Heather Vaughan-Southard’s recent blog, MAEIA: Remote Learning in the Arts features best practices as shared by exceptional virtual arts educators as we move forward in online and hybrid arts learning and engagement. As a sneak preview, who knew that studentsmight feel more comfortable sharing in an online environment because social pressure is less pronounced? 

National Trends and Influences

Our national arts advocacy agency Americans for the Arts recently featured Lansing Art Gallery & Education Center at the national level, and we’re thrilled! We’re also grateful for their Arts Vote campaign to promote civic engagement.

Rather than heading to San Diego as originally planned in September, I attended the Arts Education Partnership’s national gathering virtually. Although I missed networking with colleagues from across the country in person, I appreciated the content focused on diversity, inclusion, and equity, which continues to be the driving force in our work toward arts access in Michigan. Of note, colleagues Quanice Floyd, Jeff Poulin, and Amir Whitaker’s offered the perspectives of organizational leaders, policy researchers and a civil rights lawyer in a presentation titled Changing the Frame: Arts and Cultural Education as a Civil and Human Right. As we continue to frame arts education as a fundamental civil and human right, cutting edge research on the role of the arts in reducing the school-to-prison pipeline was particularly compelling for our work here in Michigan.

Strides Toward Our Future

I’m thrilled to share Health Management Associates as our title sponsor for our 2020 Michigan Made | Holiday Exhibition and online sales Gallery for November and December! Their support will enable our team to launch our online store this fall in conjunction with curated in-person experiences with Exhibitions and Gallery Sales Director Katrina M. Daniels during the holidays. We’ve also received the Lansing Region Restart Grant grant, which will provide additional resources as we pivot to supporting our artists, students, and patrons online. This fall, we’ll begin strategic planning for years to come with continued determination toward increased arts access in Lansing and beyond.


P.S. Stay tuned in the meantime for our annual appeal, which will feature our FY19/20 performance and ask for your support. If you have the means, please contribute in support of our mission and all of the work we do on behalf of Michigan artists and art lovers alike.

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