Mayor Andy Schor hasn't been in office even a full year, but one of his first Executive Orders was to create an Arts and Culture Commission for Lansing, and select it's members. "The mayor is a very collaborative person," says Samantha Harkins, Chief of Staff at the Mayor's Office. "He really wants to work with the people of Lansing. To listen to what they want, and then work with them to make it happen."
And one of the topics that people raised repeatedly during the Mayor's transition was the lack of a structured arts and culture commission in Lansing. So as soon as he was in office, Mayor Schor set about creating one. And who are these 28 dedicated folks, whose efforts will make Lansing a more vibrant, interesting and beautiful city to live in? Well, the group is as diverse as the art forms they champion.
Alice Brinkman, founder and executive director of REACH Studio Art Center, and Dominic Cochran, co-founder and co-director of the Capital City Film Festival are both on the Commission. And then there's Josh Holliday, the placemaking manager for the LEAP; Quinn Jiles, who works with the Lansing Art Gallery & Education Center, and Debbie Mikula, executive director of the Arts Council of Greater Lansing. And we're proud to say that our own managing editor Suban Nur Cooley will also be adding her immense talent to the group. And that's only a drop in the bucket.
So what exactly will the Commission be doing in their place-making efforts here in Lansing? The commission’s charter spells it out in five steps, which include developing and recommending an arts and culture plan for the mayor, and sponsoring and organizing events in Lansing. For those of you who may have read the charter, itcan seem a little vague, but there's a reason for that - freedom.
"Mayor Schor wants the commission to have free reign when it comes to moving Lansing toward a more artistic and culturally rich future." Harkins explains, "Only when their hands aren't tied, he says, and their creatively is free to roam, can great ideas flourish. The mayor's hope is to have the group generate ideas. We want to know how they - Lansing's diverse art community - thinks we can make our city a more richly creative and culturally relevant place to live."
The commission has only just been assembled - they haven't even had their first meeting yet. But ask anyone who's met this fantastic collection of artists, poets, performers, musicians and writers, and you'll know that the future is bright for Lansing. Hold onto your horses, because the Capital city is going places!
Source: Samantha Harkins, Chief of Staff, The Mayor's Office
Writer: Sarah Hillman, News Editor
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