The Arts Council of Greater Lansing is honoring those that have most contributed to Lansing’s arts scene.
The honors consist of two awards, based on nominations from the public. The Applause Award honors an individual who has made a significant contribution to arts in the region, while the Business Arts Award does the same for local businesses.
This year’s winners are the Jackson National Life Insurance Company for the Business Arts Award and Stanley and Selma Hollander for the Applause Award.
The winners received their awards at the Holiday Glitter Gala last night at the James B. Henry Center in Lansing, The event also marked the Arts Council’s 45th anniversary and served as a fund-raiser. Entertainment was provided by Peppermint Creek Theatre, with artistic director Chad Badgero and a choral ensemble looking back at the Arts Council’s history.
Selma was nominated by the Lansing Symphony Orchestra. According to Kristin Peterson, marketing director for the Orchestra, it was a surprise for them that Selma hadn’t been nominated already.
“Selma and Stanley have always been at the heart of arts and culture in the Lansing area,” Peterson said.
“She has had symphony tickets for years, and with almost any event that took place at Wharton, people always knew where to find Stanley and Selma Hollander.”
Stanley was a former award-winning professor at Michigan State University. Selma is an MSU graduate and former teacher in MSU’s College of Human Ecology.
Despite Stanley’s death in 2004, Selma has continued their support of the arts. She is involved with MSU, as well as numerous local theaters.
A long-time subscriber to the LSO, Selma always finds a way to get to concerts, according to Peterson.
“We can’t think of another member of the community more deserving,” Peterson said.
Jackson National was nominated by the All-of-Us Express Children’s Theatre.
Leslie Donaldson, executive director of the Arts Council, described Jackson National as “an outstanding example of a corporate citizen that supports the arts community.”
Danielle Weller, a corporate responsibility specialist with Jackson National, said company founder Tony Pasant was a major supporter of the arts. Pasant Theatre is named after him, in fact.
More recently, she said, the company started the Jackson National Community Fund, focusing on children and the elderly, to support both their customers and their community.
“We’re thrilled to be able to win, honored,” Weller said. “We have lots of respect for the Council and the work they’re doing. Surprised, though. We definitely don’t do any of this work with the intent to win awards.
“The better this community is, the better it will be for our staff. We know the arts play a big role in that.”
Donaldson said their corporate headquarters has more than 200 pieces of original art work.
Additionally, Jackson National has donated millions to communities in which their employees live and work, including more than $80,000 to All-of-Us Express.