Budding arts and culture organization may give econ boost

Everyone knows and appreciates the Upper Peninsula for it’s abundant natural resources, be it industrial or recreational.

A better kept secret, however, is the U.P.’s vibrant arts and culture community. The region is brimming with accomplished painters, poets, artists who work in fiber, clay and the such. Now, there’s an effort ongoing to organize on a regional basis artists in the U.P., to help draw connections, retain creative talent and drive economic development.

“Yet there are so many ideas that can be amplified if people work together across smaller communities,” Sharon Rodning Bash of Minneapolis, a senior program director of ArtsLab, said this week at a meeting of the budding Upper Peninsula Arts and Culture Alliance. “So, this is really an effort to amplify the voice of arts and culture and do something in a united fashion that no one community or no one organization is capable of doing on their own.”

The session was held at the Marquette Arts and Culture Center where the discussion focused, in part, on the organization itself. A previous session, held in the Copper Country, addressed whether such a group was needed.

Tiina Harris, community services manager of arts and culture for Marquette, said the alliance will involve communities like Marquette, Sault Ste. Marie, Ironwood, the Copper Country and even Mackinaw City in the northern Lower Peninsula, as well as Northern Michigan University, Lake Superior State University and Michigan Tech University.

The group has a pair of laudable goals: To determine the value of arts and culture to individual residents in U.P. communities and to help spur economic development.

We, at The Mining Journal, have long believed the region’s robust arts and culture community play an important goal in making up the fabric of the region. We’d recommend readers keep a close eye on this group going forward. Good things often start with small steps.