Saginaw Valley State University leaders say a new partnership between the institution and a national organization will bolster the positive influence of the arts community in Saginaw.
The U.S. Department of Arts and Culture, a grassroots organization not affiliated with a government agency, recently designated Saginaw as one of its “outposts” for encouraging interaction within the arts community. SVSU was selected as the home base of that “outpost,” now known as The Saginaw Community Arts Outpost.
“The goal is to provide individuals a platform and resources to help them be active and engaged in their communities,” said Helen Raica-Klotz, director of SVSU’s Writing Center as well as coordinator of The Saginaw Community Arts Outpost. “We want to improve the lives of the community.”
New York City, Baltimore, Denver and Berkeley are among the other “outposts” designated by the national organization.
Raica-Klotz said The Saginaw Community Arts Outpost’s goals involve connecting regional artists, activists and leaders, then encouraging them to engage the larger community in dialogue relating to issues facing Saginaw. The arts will be used as a way to spark those conversations.
The first project associated with The Saginaw Community Arts Outpost is a short documentary, “A Body of Work,” that details the highs and lows of Saginaw’s automobile manufacturing industry. The film premieres Saturday, Aug. 25, at 7 p.m. at the Pit & Balcony Theatre, 805 N. Hamilton in Saginaw. A panel discussion about the state of the automotive industry and its impact on Saginaw will follow the showing, which is free and open to the public.
The film was produced by Elisa Urtiaga, a community artist, in collaboration with members of SVSU’s staff and faculty. David Rzeszutek, an SVSU associate professor of theatre and one of the film’s collaborators, said the production exemplifies the spirit driving The Saginaw Community Arts Outpost.
“Hopefully, our interview-based film will inspire a reaction and allow people to open up about their personal experiences during this conversation,” Rzeszutek said.
Another goal of The Saginaw Community Arts Outpost involves improving participants’ access to resources. Raica-Klotz said The U.S. Department of Arts and Culture provides information on grant opportunities available to arts and cultural leaders seeking collaboration. Individuals can learn about those opportunities by signing up for the organization’s email newsletter at https://usdac.us/saginaw. Information also is available on Facebook at www.facebook.com/SaginawUSDAC/.
Raica-Klotz said SVSU is a natural fit to serve as a center for such community interaction.
Because of the university’s culture of outreach and collaboration in the Great Lakes Bay Region, SVSU in 2015 received a Community Engagement Classification designation from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The university also recently established the Center for Community Engagement, which centralizes many of SVSU’s outreach programs. The new center helped the university earn its designation as The Saginaw Community Arts Outpost. And many of the artists and cultural leaders likely to collaborate through The Saginaw Community Arts Outpost programs are members of the university’s student, staff, faculty or alumni populations.
“We have a number of artists who are on our campus and in our region that are very engaged politically, socially, and are very community-minded,” Raica-Klotz said. “This is a great platform for artists in the community and the university to come together to do work to benefit the region.”