Downtown hosts national arts conference


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State arts agencies from across the country will visit downtown this week to explore the“dynamic connections among art, education and community vibrancy.”

The Michigan Council for Arts & Cultural Affairs will host the annual conference of the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies, or NASAA, Thursday through Saturday in Grand Rapids at the Amway Grand Plaza.

Arts leaders from all 50 states will attend, along with a range of experts in cultural research, creative community development and arts education.

State arts agencies aim to elevate public awareness, provide grants and facilitate access to the arts, while promoting the cultural, civic, educational and economic benefits of a thriving arts sector.

The symposium is being held during preview week of the eighth-annual ArtPrize competition, which takes place Sept. 21 to Oct. 9.

In addition to a range of arts-funding sessions at the Amway Grand Plaza, Kendall College of Art and Design and Grand Rapids Art Museum, NASAA attendees will tour ArtPrize exhibits throughout the city.

Throughout the conference, a varied roster of Michigan artists will perform for attendees: Mosaic Youth Theatre of Detroit; Kinetic Affect duo from Kalamazoo; Lansing Unionized Vaudeville Spectacle; pianist Naomi Yamaguchi; and Wild Swan Theater.

John Bracey, executive director of the Michigan Council for Arts & Cultural Affairs, said Grand Rapids is a city that “embodies how creativity can infuse a community, support civic well-being, connect people to each other and create new economic opportunities.”

He said by hosting the conference in Grand Rapids, the Michigan Council for Arts & Cultural Affairs is “shining a bright light on what the arts contribute to our state."

Pam Breaux, NASAA CEO, said she expects attendees will return home “informed, energized and inspired by their Michigan experience.”

The Michigan Council for Arts & Cultural Affairs is an agency within the Michigan Economic Development Corp., which is the marketing and business attraction arm of the State of Michigan.

The Michigan Council for Arts & Cultural Affairs is a source of arts-and-culture grant funding, making awards in every Michigan legislative district.

Most state arts agencies were created shortly after Congress established the National Endowment for the Arts in 1965.

Generally, state arts agencies receive funds from their state legislatures, along with some funding from the NEA and other government sources.

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