WRITER | NICOLETTE CHAMBERY
Founded in 1981, Art Reach of Mid-Michigan has been connecting individuals of all backgrounds with robust arts and culture programming, enriching the lives of all who choose to participate.
Amy Powell was appointed executive director over a year ago, no doubt selected, at least in part, for her longstanding knowledge of the organization and her commitment to ensuring that children and adults alike have access to art education. Powell received her master’s degree in communication from Central Michigan University. She’s lived in the Mid-Michigan region for 14 years and became acquainted with Art Reach when she brought her kids in to engage in the programs available.
Her passion for art and culture education is rooted in her belief that exposure to these kinds of programs ultimately leads to more rounded individuals.
She elaborates, “A lot of research indicates that for STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) to be effective, we need art. I like to say that it’s not STEM, but STEAM, because we can’t develop critical-thinking individuals without the component of art.”
The organization has several outreach programs and classes available to the community, many at no cost to participants. One of their longest-running programs is the Picture Program, facilitated by over 100 trained docents who travel to area schools with artwork and give an art history lesson. These individuals reach over 7,000 students each year.
Another prominent Art Reach program is Art Walk Central, a month-long opportunity for both youth and adults to display their artwork around the city of Mt. Pleasant in the shops of local merchants. A Judge’s Prize and a People’s Choice Award is issued to 2 of the 120 participants. This program has become a staple annual event and is relished by both participating artists and the community, which gets to enjoy the unique displays. Last year alone, an estimated 5,100 people were involved in the various activities tied to this program.
This is also the ninth year of Art Reach’s Festival of Banners, where school children painted 343 banners to hang on light posts throughout Isabella County. Submissions are received from school art classes and clubs for display between June and November. Once the banners are taken down, families are allowed to purchase them for $25, which goes toward covering the cost of the vinyl purchased for the program.
Powell reflects on the economic impact that member-driven organizations such as Art Reach have had on the community, particularly their ability to engage individuals across generations in enriching activities.
“It’s a call I take very seriously. I support other member-driven organizations because I don’t want to abuse or take for granted the support our community has shown us.”
This mindset and methodology contribute not only to thriving and diverse art programs in Isabella County, but to a band of generous people who prioritize and respect others’ work as well.
Art Reach of Mid-Michigan 111 E. Broadway Street, Mt. Pleasant Michigan 48858 l (989) 773-3689 l ArtReachCenter.org