A recent collaborative project by Lansing, East Lansing, Michigan State University and the Michigan Department of History, Arts and Libraries determined that Mid-Michigan is rich in cultural offerings, but more needs to be done to help get the word out about them.
Or maybe the region just needs more people like those winning this year’s arts advocacy awards from the Arts Council of Greater Lansing, who were to be recognized at Tuesday night’s Glitter Gala event at the Radisson Hotel.
Sharon Ellis, co-chairwoman of the Arts Council’s Awards Committee, said what ties this year’s winners together is they not only enjoy the arts themselves, but they also spread the word about artists in the community. “They introduce the arts to their, clients, listeners, friends, whoever they can,” Ellis said.
Winning this year’s Applause Award for an “outstanding individual” is Walt Sorg, host of the “AM Lansing” radio show.
Ellis called Sorg an “unparalleled promoter” of the performing arts, citing his many segments on what’s going on with the Lansing Symphony Orchestra, BoarsHead and Riverwalk theaters, the Wharton Center, Lansing Community College and Old Town’s Jazz and Blues festivals, as well as encouraging listeners to support the arts financially.
“We’re very lucky to have a voice in the media everyday who is so dedicated to the arts and letting the Lansing people know what’s going on,” Ellis said. “We believe his dedication has increased attendance and awareness, and we’re just very grateful to him.”
Taking home this year’s Business-Art Award is Lansing’s Sutton Advisors. Ellis said owners Jerry and Linda Sutton and their daughter Jordan Sutton are active supporters of local art institutions, including Kresge Art Museum, BoarsHead Theater and the Lansing Symphony.
“One tenant of their business is helping people who want to transform their lives, and they exemplify that through their involvement in the arts,” Ellis said. “All over their office and in their home, you see art all over. They have everything from big oil paintings to sculptures to smaller pieces. They just are huge supporters of the arts in general.”
The Suttons’ office doubles as an exhibition space for plates decorated by kids for the Greater Lansing Food Bank’s Empty Plate Dinner fundraiser. “They really haven incorporated their love and support of the arts into their home and work environment, so their employees and clients are made aware,” Ellis said.