Arts & culture focus of city meetings

MARQUETTE – Collaboration and partnerships can go a long way in fostering the arts and culture in the city of Marquette.

That was one of the messages presented at Arts and Culture Master Plan public meetings this earlier week in the Citizens Forum Room at Lakeview Arena.

“Imagine Marquette, Defining a Vibrant Arts and Culture Community” is what the city wants to do with the 10-year master plan. The first master plan was written more than 20 years ago, so community input was sought on the city’s arts and culture environment, which has changed significantly in those 20 years.

The Monday meeting was facilitated by consulting firms Christine Harris Connections of Milwaukee and Creative Community Builders of Minneapolis.

“Whatever you talk about tonight, that plan is going to bubble forth from that,” Tiina Harris, community services manager for the Marquette Arts and Culture Center, told meeting participants,

Walt Lindala, co-chairman of the Arts and Culture Master Plan Steering Committee along with Michele Butler, said: “‘We want you to think big. Think grand, because we’re planning the future of the community.”

About 50 participants from the community gathered into groups to discuss various topics, including identifying the cultural events that took place last year that were important to them.

Mentioned were the Halloween Spectacle, the garden tour, Petunia Pandemonium, the U.P. 200, the New Year’s Eve Ball Drop and Art On the Rocks, among many other events.

Jewelry artist Beth Millner, also a member of the steering committee, named the 100DayProject in which participants are to take part in an artistic activity for 100 consecutive days.

“The concept is to set some parameters for yourself and do it 100 days straight,” Millner said.

Roslyn McGrath, editor of Heath & Happiness U.P. Magazine, said she appreciated the costumes, improvisation and live drumming at the Halloween Spectacle.

“It really seems like an exciting, different thing than we had before,” McGrath said.

Regarding last summer’s garden tour in the city, Gisele Duehring, who is spearheading the BotEco project at the Lower Harbor ore dock, said: “It’s really making the most of the growing season. It’s really celebrating the non-snow time.”

Ben Bohnsack, president of the Marquette City Band, said of the city: “We’re big enough that we have competing events, but they all can succeed.”

Participants also came up with a list of “wants” for the city’s arts and culture scene. They included another arts and culture center, partnering with Northern Michigan University, an all-encompassing city calendar, collaboration between nature and outdoors groups, a band shell or similar resource at Founders Landing and more events that combine music and arts.

Steering committee members were to consider suggestions given at the public meetings, plus a community survey will be conducted to further identify and understand the needs and challenges of the city’s arts and culture environment. The committee then will make recommendations to the Marquette City Commission.

It is hoped the plan will be completed by May.

Christie Bleck can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250.