Local art gallery receives $30k grant helping boost creative offerings in the Blue Water Area

New Century Art Gallery has become a fixture in the Blue Water Area art scene since it opened in downtown Marine City in 2021. Recently, the establishment was awarded a significant grant totaling $30,000 through the Backing Small Businesses Program, a collaborative effort between Main Street America and American Express that supports businesses nationwide.

Jeanne Burris Johnson, owner of New Century Art Gallery in Marine City, Michigan.Owner of New Century Art Gallery, Jeanne Burris Johnson, expressed her gratitude for the grant, emphasizing its transformative impact on the gallery's operations.

“We are so thankful not only for this grant and the opportunities it has brought us but also for the incredible community that has come together to build something amazing for the art community,” Burris Johnson says.

In early 2023 as part of a 350-member cohort, New Century Art Gallery received an initial $5,000 grant and utilized this funding by purchasing essential supplies such as brushes, paint, and canvases. Burris Johnson says this portion of the grant also supported the gallery’s free veteran’s class which is hosted once a month. During the class, veterans learn basic hand-building techniques to create art or functional pieces and spend time with their peers.

Veterans come together to enjoy a free class at New Century Art Gallery in Marine City.

Local artist Mike Henry and his exhibit during Marine City Art Drift.Notably, she says the gallery also used this grant to collaborate with MC Marketplace and The Painted Toad and launch Marine City Art Drift, an initiative aimed at showcasing the city's vibrant art scene through exhibitions and events.

“We had a lot of people that came and had a lot of enthusiasm for it,” Burris Johnson says. “We’re getting ready to do it again on April 27th.”

Burris Johnson says the grant has helped her business in ways they otherwise might not be able to do. With the funding, they were able to build a new glass studio and will soon be offering classes where they will guide students on how to make functional artistic pieces like small plates and sun catchers.

She emphasizes that these events not only benefit local artists but also contribute positively to the community as a whole by encouraging more people to come to Marine City. She says that with the additional $25,000, they are working to build more opportunities for artists and host more art events in Marine City.

Burris Johnson outlined additional plans for the gallery which include the installation of movable walls in the 300 Broadway St. building, formerly city hall. These walls will provide local artists with a versatile space to exhibit their work at the historic site.

“If this were to happen, the city would be able to rent those walls which would help make money for 300 Broadway,” Burris Johnson says. “It’s stuff like this that we’re looking to do so we can have regular opportunities for artists.”

To see offerings or learn more about New Century Art Gallery, visit newcenturyartgallery.com.
Enjoy this story? Sign up for free solutions-based reporting in your inbox each week.

Read more articles by Genevieve Fox.

Genevieve Fox is an award-winning journalist from Detroit. Since graduating from Michigan State University, she has built a solid background in environmental reporting and previous experience in radio broadcasting and photography at Great Lakes Echo and WKAR. She is now a freelance writer and a project editor for Metromode's series Macomb Live, Work, Play and Parks and Trails. When not working, she loves spending time outdoors and reading a good book. More by Genevieve Fox.