Last week, over 200 local artists, art supporters, business leaders and community members gathered at MSU’s University Club to celebrate the local arts scene.
The Dec. 6 Holiday Glitter event, the Arts Council of Greater Lansing’s annual fundraiser, included the group’s Applause Awards, as well as a silent auction that featured pieces of art from City Pulse’s first ever Summer of Art.
The 17 art pieces up for auction were featured on the cover of City Pulse throughout the summer and on several fall covers promoting the Art Council’s monthly Arts Night Out event. The silent auction raised over $2,200, with over $660 going to the artists and the rest benefitting the Arts Council. Six pieces didn’t sell at the auction, and Deborah Mikula, executive director of the Arts Council, is hoping to set up an online auction to sell the remaining pieces early next year.
The Arts Council’s Applause Awards recognize the contributions of artists, arts organizations and art patrons in the region. This year’s winners are the East Lansing Arts Commission, the Greater Lansing Convention and Visitors Bureau, Peppermint Creek Theatre Co. artistic director Chad Badgero, the Allen Neighborhood Center, Keys to Creativity and artist/art educator Laura Weber-Gajewski. Julie Pingston, senior vice president and COO of the Greater Lansing Convention and Visitors Bureau, received the Ted Sondag Individual Leadership Award.
"We are so proud to honor these individuals and businesses who are making a difference in their communities through the arts,” Mikula said. “Their dedication and passion help put creativity at the forefront in strengthening and growing our cities and communities, and we are so fortunate to have them in our region."
The East Lansing Arts Commission, an advisory board to the City Council, was recognized for its contributions to public art in East Lansing, including the city’s Percent for Art ordinance. The policy, which went into effect nearly two years ago, requires new developments to set aside 1 percent of their total budget to fund permanent public art projects.
“It’s a tremendous honor,” said Arts Commission chairwoman Sarah Triplett. “This shows the power of a group working with the government to accomplish goals.”
Keys to Creativity, a relatively new nonprofit art space in the Lansing Mall, was recognized for its dedication to education and collaborative projects. Larry Grudt, executive director of the nonprofit, was surprised to learn that such a young project would be honored with an Applause Award.
“I was blown away,” he said. “There are a lot of really solid groups in the area that have been doing great work for a long time.”
Since launching in October 2015, the gallery has expanded from one storefront to two. Its Community Art Gallery offers a variety of local art for sale, as well as classroom space, while its Events Gallery hosts individual exhibitions, music events and community meetings. Keys to Creativity also curates a space in the Allen Neighborhood Center. Grudt is also thinking beyond the walls of the gallery, trying to find ways to engage artists in what he calls the “arts outer ring” in communities like Charlotte, Williamston and St. Johns. He’s also looking at opportunities to partner with local theater groups and planning a summer-long, region-wide art project.
“It’s not just art exhibitions,” Grudt said. “We’re inviting dance, music, theater — as much creative stuff as we can get into.”