Brightly painted banners featuring artwork from community artists of all ages will once again adorn the streets of Isabella County this year.
The Festival of Banners is an annual community-wide art program hosted by Art Reach of Mid Michigan. Community members of all artistic skill levels are able to participate in designing and painting banners that will be on display throughout the county from May until November.
Chyann Haas works on her banner during class at the Saginaw Chippewa Tribal College on Tuesday, March 26, 2019.
This year’s Festival of Banners theme is “Art Inspires!” The program is free for those under the age of 18 as well as those 65 years or older.
“We want to make it easy, we want people to be able to have access, that’s what it all comes down to,” said Amy Powell, Executive Director of Art Reach. “There might be five or six kids that are painting one banner, so we have hundreds of kids that are having access to the arts in a way that they wouldn’t normally.”
Art Reach accepts sponsors to offset the expense of the program. Powell said the purchase of the 5-foot tall banners alone costs over $10,000. Art Reach also provides the paint for the banners, which is locally sourced from Percha Paint & Wallpaper. The banners are printed at E & S Graphics, Inc., which is also locally owned and operated.
Peggy Brisbane works on her banner at Jamieson Hall Union Township in Mt. Pleasant on Thursday, March 21, 2019. Brisbane's banner is of morning glories, inspired by a flower she grows in her home garden.
This year’s sponsors are Charter Township of Union, Michigan, Isabella Bank, Isabella Community Credit Union (ICCU), MidMichigan Health, Migizi Economic Development Company, Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan, Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort, and program partners John & Ann Jensen.
The cities and towns of Isabella County also support the festival by taking on the cost of installing the banners and removing them after the event.
The program wouldn’t be possible without the support and commitment from the municipalities said Powell. The cities not only incur the expense associated with putting the banners up and taking them down, but fixtures had to be added to each lamppost so that the banners could be hung.
Paula Chippewa works on painting her banner during class at the Saginaw Chippewa Tribal College on Tuesday, March 26, 2019.
“When you talk about community collaboration, this really is a true collaboration. They are the ones who are putting in the effort in making sure that they can be displayed,” Powell said. “We’re really fortunate that we have such great municipalities around here that are willing to be a part of this.”
To see last year’s Festival of Banners artwork visit Art Reach’s 2018 Banner Book.