By Jada Simone
This Month we got the opportunity to speak with Meghan Martin, Program Manager for the Arts Council of Greater Lansing. The Arts Council of Greater Lansing supports many diverse artists and is helping the community engage with them through placemaking.
LM: How did you get involved with the Arts Council
Meghan Martin: All of the Arts Council staff is creative in some form, as we were all drawn to the arts in some point in our lives. Personally, I was raised by an elementary arts teacher who got me involved in the arts very early on. I was then very active in theatre through both high school and college, so I’ve always have an appreciation for arts and culture.
I then got interested in the literary arts and I graduated from J-School at Michigan State. With a background in communication, I had the opportunity to start working with the Arts Council when I was with the Tri County Regional Planning Commission doing economic development. There was a natural connection between what they were doing and what the arts council was doing with creative placemaking. So I got to know the organization and fell in love with the work that they were doing.
LM: Can you explain the connection between economic development and culture?
Meghan Martin: For us, we see the arts and culture everywhere. A lot of people don’t realize that they’re surrounded by it. It’s the movies we go to see, the music that we listen to. Everyone has a phone with a camera and takes pictures. We’re engaging with art throughout our lives, many people just don’t necessarily see how prevalent it is.
We believe that through creative placemaking we can get people to engage more with their community. Having a thriving community, where there’s a lot of activity for people, that’s what’s going to drive people to live, work and play in our communities. You can definitely do that through arts and culture.
LM: Can you explain creative placemaking?
Meghan Martin: It’s the economic driver to get people out of their homes and into businesses and be more engaged with arts and culture. They would be able to be engaged with their neighbors and other community members and really activate spaces. If there are places in a neighborhood where people are already gathering for things like picnics, you can activate it in a way that can bring music, arts and culture to that space and amplify it.
LM: What are some of the services that the Arts Council provides?
Meghan Martin: We’re a member service organization that provides services to about 250 artists and arts and cultural organizations. There is the Greater Lansing Festival Alliance with a membership of 100 festivals in the Greater Lansing region. Overall our goal is to promote and strengthen arts in the region so that we can really be a voice for the artists and those organizations that are promoting arts and culture for the tri-county region of Ingham, Clinton, and Eaton counties.
We provide a number of services including six grant programs that provide artists and arts and culture organizations, and festivals monetary support. They help them fund projects and get professional development at national conferences. One of them provides advertising dollars meant to promote events outside of Ingham County.
We also have an education program called Smarts which gives members and non-members professional development opportunities as well as workshops and classes. Sometimes we bring in professionals from other fields that have expertise in an area that would benefit artists. For example, a local lawyer will be teaching a class on how to become an LLC.
For more information contact:
Meghan Martin – Program Manager
firstname.lastname@example.org (517) 853-7582