2018-08-11 / Top News

Arts Council Fundraiser to Offer Music, Food Aug. 16

By Marina Lindland


Philip Rice (left) and Mark Ware at Mission Point Theater, where the Mackinac Arts Council has an exhibit space donated by Mission Point Resort and shares the theater for movies and artistic performances. Philip Rice (left) and Mark Ware at Mission Point Theater, where the Mackinac Arts Council has an exhibit space donated by Mission Point Resort and shares the theater for movies and artistic performances. The Mackinac Arts Council will host this year’s biggest fundraiser, Jammin’ For the Arts, a combination of food and music that is open to everyone, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday, August 16, at the Ice House BBQ behind Island House Hotel.

Admission is $50 and includes an all-you-can-eat buffet and two drink vouchers. The tickets can be purchased at the event.

Gabi Bowditch and Paul Bedour will provide music, but there will be open microphones so attendees can join them.

“There’s the live music, but it’s also a jam session,” said Mackinac Arts Council Program Director Philip Rice. “We encourage people to come in, bring their instruments, and join in on the music. There are no limits on participation.”

Those who attend can contribute further to the Mackinac Arts Council by purchasing raffle tickets for a Monica Pipia painting. The tickets, $10 each or three for $25. There will be a roll call for raffle tickets purchased online in advance. There also will be a silent auction for artwork, hotel vouchers, ferry tickets, champagne, and other prizes..

Since it was organized about 17 years ago, the Mackinac Arts Council has flourished. Its board of directors now consists of 12 people, with Lisa Olson, Dominick Miller, Sara Wright, and Jeri-Lynn Bailey recently joining.

The goal of the Arts Council, said Dr. Rice, is to showcase the artistic side of the Island and eventually make it synonymous with culture and art. The board of directors, he added, has been crucial to his work.

“They are my eyes and ears to the community’s wants and needs,” he said.

Through the 12 members, he said, the board has a connection to almost everyone in the community. It is a diverse group, including business owners, community leaders, hotel managers, and Mackinac State Historic Parks employees.

Becki Barnwell, who founded the group, said Dr. Rice has kept Mackinac Arts Council thriving during the three years he has been here. His consistent, year-around presence, she said, makes it easier for him to expand programing because he is familiar with the artists and musicians, the programs currently in place, and the rest of the community.

“Philip is the perfect person for this job,” she said. “He can take an idea and create a roadmap to get the job done as efficiently as possible.”

Board President Mark Ware said Ms. Barnwell and Dr. Rice have made it a lot easier for him to transition into his position.

“I’m still relatively new to the Mackinac Arts Council,” he said. “They really do all of the footwork while I get myself settled into how things run around here.”

Mr. Ware joined the Mackinac Arts Council board in 2016 and became its president two months ago. As he had been a part of the Mackinac Island community only since December of 2014, he said, the arts council has been a good way to meet people around the Island.

The arts council puts on about 75 programs every year, including community theater projects, workshops at the museum, movies, and concerts, and it assists authors in publishing books.

Music in the Park Summer Concert Series is one of the most notable among the events and outreach programs hosted by the Arts Council,

Ms. Barnwell said the concert series started as a summer music festival lasting three days. While the festival was successful, the Arts Council wanted to reach a wider audience by expanding the concerts through the summer. Now, the public concerts are held every Thursday for 10 weeks and draw between 400 to 700 attendees.

“It’s wonderful to see,” said Mr. Ware. “I’ll be biking by Marquette Park on a Thursday and see no less than about 500 people listening to the music.”

The arts council is also involved at Mackinac Island Public School, creating programs and field trip opportunities to encourage students to explore their creativity. Ms. Barnwell said that, at one point, there were rumors the school’s arts programs would be cut owing to a lack of funds.

The arts council stepped in, providing equipment such as digital cameras and instruments and sponsoring events such as Poetic Visions, in which students take photos and write poems to accompany them. This year the program generated more than 40 submissions.

“The thing I feel the most aware of is the continued community support,” Ms. Barnwell said. “It takes a lot of volunteers to run these events and we’ve never had any problems with the people in the community. Everyone has a stake in the council and everyone has a relationship with it. That can be from hotel guests being happy with the programing to workers who go to the concerts to relax after work to residents who have daughters that go to the workshops.”

Mission Point Resort, which is owned by Mr. Ware’s family, has been critical in the continuation and growth of the Mackinac Arts Council. The resort pays the salary of the program director and provides exhibit and office space for the arts council.

“I don’t think we would have made the progress we have without it,” said Ms. Barnwell.

Mr. Ware has always loved the arts, particularly paintings and modern art. He said he feels privileged to be apart of the council through his business and through his position on the board of directors.

“The arts council is a good thing for the Island,” he said. “In order for it to grow, it needs constant staff and leadership, and we’re happy to be able to provide that.”

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