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Support for local arts needed during pandemic

As with many areas of society, local arts and culture has had its struggles this year.

The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in Art Week — one of Marquette’s biggest creative events — being canceled, and other art-related events didn’t come off as planned, or at all.

So, we’re happy to hear the area has received some good “art” news, with the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs having awarded $154,440 to organizations in Marquette County. They include the city of Marquette Art Week, Hiawatha Music Cooperative, Ishpeming Public Schools, Liberty Children’s Art Project, Marquette-Alger Regional Educational Service Agency, Marquette City Band, Marquette Regional History Center, Marquette Maritime Museum, Marquette Symphony Orchestra, Superior Arts Youth Theater, Superior String Alliance and the Upper Peninsula Children’s Museum.

The MCACA received just under 600 grant applications for arts and cultural programs for fiscal year 2021, with requests totaling over $19 million. Applications were evaluated over 30 days of panel reviews using a peer review process.

Things like police services and roads might be the “nuts and bolts” of an area, but arts and culture give it a unique identity.

For example, the mural of a red-winged blackbird, painted by local artist Taryn Okesson, adds a special touch to Northern Lights Glass, located at 415 N. Third St. in Marquette. The mural was inspired by artist Piet Mondrian, a Dutch artist known for abstract works.

During this summer when many activities were altered or canceled because of the pandemic, youngsters had a chance to express themselves artistically during a plein air painting session offered by the Marquette Maritime Museum with MCACA and the Liberty Children’s Art Project.

They spent part of a sunny day painting outdoor scenes near the Lake Superior shore. How pleasant was that? It certainly beat being cooped up inside in front of a computer.

Giving people a good sense of well-being and making a city more aesthetically pleasing certainly has its practical merits, and in the age of COVID, any extra bit of happiness is more than welcome.

We are happy to see support for the arts is continuing in Marquette County, and in the state of Michigan as well since MCACA awarded over $9 million in grant funding statewide.

This support undoubtedly will have positive effects down the line, and with the pandemic not expected to go away anytime soon, this is great news.

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