Our Story

Arts + Creative Industries = Impact

The Arts Alliance is the arts + creative industry authority in Washtenaw County. A regional agency, its mission is to advocate for and support Creative Washtenaw and ensure that the greater Ann Arbor area remains a great place to create, live, work, learn, play and visit.

The intrinsic and aesthetic values of art and creativity are determining factors of success for its members and constituents: professionals, amateurs, students and industry experts leading the sector locally, nationally and internationally who have creative practices, own creative businesses and hold creative jobs in profit, nonprofit, educational and government entities and produce creative goods, services and programs for county residents and visitors.

The Arts Alliance serves Ann Arbor, Chelsea, Dexter, Manchester, Milan, Saline, Whitmore Lake and Ypsilanti, plus the 21 townships in the county.

It is committed to forever evolving and learning about diversity, equity and inclusion. That includes leaning in to listen to and act on how its community defines the intrinsic and aesthetic qualities of art and creativity be it by the cultural expert, the credentialed scholar, the journeyed or self-taught master and/or the astute consumer of the form.

Facilitating, advocating, communicating, educating and celebrating.

The Arts Alliance is one of 4,500 local arts agencies in the United States. As defined by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), rather than being discipline-specific, local arts agencies work to:

  1. Develop, promote and sustain the health and vitality of the local artists, creative workers, educators, organizations, and businesses.

  2.  Strive to make it possible for every community resident, student, business, municipality and visitor to benefit from arts and creative assets.

Local art agencies are sometimes described as “a Chamber of Commerce for the Arts” to draw the analogy of an organization that supports, advocates and provides services for the region arts businesses.

The Arts Alliance is the very definition of a backbone organization: one that establishes and nurtures cross-sector partnerships to reach common goals and outcomes. The Arts Alliance is intent, first and foremost, in listening to its members because they are the experts. They need to prosper and know what causes their stagnation. The work of The Arts Alliance is furthered through research, assessment and data that it and others conduct and report.

The Arts Alliance reveres the intrinsic and aesthetic values of art + creativity while working diligently to demonstrate the impact of the sector on the economy, education, quality of life and place. It relentlessly pushes the arts + creative industries agenda forward by persuading the community at large, its leaders and decision makers the value of investing in and setting policies to make it possible for artists and creatives to make a decent living, to ensure that creative organizations and businesses are properly resourced and that schools have the means to provide students with arts + creative education as a right to a well-rounded education that leads to a workforce possessing the depth of skills desired by 21st century employers. The Arts Alliance and its members know that building and sustaining a vibrant arts + creative sector is not accomplished by want or magic. It takes long-term commitment.

The Arts Alliance has earned respect among community decision-makers resulting in being asked to take a “seat at the table” on community planning and initiatives (though sometimes still bringing our own chair.) The Arts Alliance is an essential partner with the business, education, government, tourism, philanthropic, health, and other sectors demonstrating the interconnectivity of and integrating art + creativity into all aspects of community life. Broad-based engagement and the Washtenaw County Cultural Master Plan informs the work of The Arts Alliance as it:

 – Facilitates to explore issues, conduct research, administer MCACA Regranting programs and foster creative initiatives.

– Advocates to voice the creative industries’ impact, influence policy and encourage investment.

– Communicates to promote the creative industries’ programs and collaborative initiatives.

– Educates to encourage investment and participation in life-long creative learning programs.

– Celebrates to trumpet the triumphs of artists, creative workers, organizations and businesses.

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