The Michigan City Public Art Committee (MAC) was established by the Michigan City Common Council ordinance in 2011 and is aimed at integrating works of art into public life on city property. Michigan City has had art in public spaces for years, both in the parks, on private property seen by the public, and in other settings. In the past few years, there has been a greater interest in public art, with ad hoc organizations and groups, but eventually resulting in the creation of the Michigan City Public Art Committee.
An early decision of the committee was to request council funding to hire a consultant to help develop a master plan for public art, so as to provide a framework of policies and procedures, which guide the acquisition of art with a plan for the whole city. The master plan establishes priorities for acquiring art, identifying appropriate locations for same, and addresses funding mechanisms. It defines the relationship between placement of art and the City's goals and objectives. One of the first items completed for the master plan was the development of the following mission statement:
"The Michigan City Public Art Committee was formed to enrich the community through public art. Its purpose is to create an identity that celebrates Michigan City's unique historical, cultural, and natural resources."
The first project was a dedication on Oct. 18, 2011, to publicly acknowledge the support of community businesses, organizations and individuals that had made possible the artwork placed in the Charles R. Westcott Gateway Park, located at the corner of Michigan Boulevard and U.S. 12. Plans were announced for future public art in Westcott Park, which includes permanent pieces and some that will change periodically to feature artwork from La Porte County children and adults. The Committee recognized Horizon Bank, a major stakeholder in the Charles Westcott public art project and the sole supporter of a six-paneled community art kiosk that features rotating exhibitions of regional children's art. The first exhibit was the Gyotaku fish prints that were created by students from the Michigan City Lake Hills Elementary School. The prints were later auctioned off and the proceeds from this sale enabled MAC to feature children's artwork in future public displays.
Sculptfusion debuted in June of 2013. It was a year-long exhibit of eight works of sculpture, which contributed to the beautification of Michigan City and highlighted the vitality of the Uptown Arts District, Washington Park and other high-visibility locations near Lake Michigan. In 2014, the original sculptures were kept over for a second year, one was removed and five more were added, bringing the total number to 13. In 2013, the storm drain project was funded in the Uptown Arts District. MAC also partially funded the steam roller print-making project.
In 2012, MAC established a scholarship fund to assist Michigan City children in taking art instruction. Visual art classes or individual art instruction for qualified children between 5 and 18 years of age is funded. Each year more than $2,000 dollars has been available in scholarships. Applicants must show financial need and take instruction from an art provider located in the Michigan City city limits.
All of these projects were funded by the generosity of the Michigan City City Council, and the 2014 donation of $16,000 from the Mayor's Ball.
MAC firmly believes that art in public spaces is a visible symbol of the standards, values, and aspirations of the community. At its best, the citizens feel a closer connection than they would without it, and its existence becomes a part of the environment. When most successful, it becomes a unifying element that ties together the streetscape, the architecture, and the natural elements of the community and invites visitors to stay longer.
MAC meets at 3 p.m. on the third Tuesday of each month in the Mayor's Conference Room at Michigan City City Hall. Members appointed by city council include representatives from the following organizations:
• One member from the Lubeznik Center for the Arts
• One member who is an Engineer/Architect
• One member of the Michigan City Common Council
• One member from Purdue University North Central
• One member from the LaPorte County Convention & Visitors Bureau
• One member from the Michigan City Park Department
• One member from the Michigan City Public Library
• Two members from the arts community
• Two at-large members of the community that have demonstrated knowledge of public art, education, or community affairs.
La Porte County CVB Community Relations Manager Jane Daley can be contacted at 872-5055 or email@example.com.