The Arts Alliance

Art + Creative Industries = Impact

The Arts Alliance’s mission is to advocate for and support the arts and creative industries in Washtenaw County, MI —arts and creative individuals, organizations and businesses—to ensure that the greater Ann Arbor region remains a great place to create, live, work, learn, play and visit.

The Arts Alliance is a leader, persuading community leaders and stakeholders of the importance of the arts and creative industries and helping the sector connect with business, education, tourism, philanthropy, government and other sectors in the townships and city centers of Washtenaw County – Ann Arbor, Chelsea, Dexter, Manchester, Milan, Saline and Ypsilanti.

The Arts Alliance Board

Interim Treasurer & Immediate Past Chair
Britany Affolter-Caine, Ph.D.
Interim Director & Program Director
University Research Corridor
Works in Lansing/Detroit, lives in Ypsilanti Township
Colby Spencer Cesaro
Creative: vocalist, actor and dancer
Vice President
Michigan Independent Colleges and Universities  (MICU)
Works in Lansing, lives in Dexter
Stewardship Committee Chair
Kim Easter
Creative: performing as vocalist Kim Vox.
Major Gift Officer
Law School, University of Michigan
Works and lives in Ann Arbor
Merrill Guerra
Creative: vocalist
Realtor & Home Staging Professional
Red Barn Realty
Works and lives in Ypsilanti Township
Michael L. Henry
Creative: filmmaker (former)
Senior Advisor
Cavanaugh Advisors
Works and lives in Ann Arbor
Linette Lao
Creative: graphic designer and creative writer
Founder & Designer
Invisible Engines
Works and lives in Ypsilanti
Melissa Milton-Pung
Creative: historic preservationist
Project Coordinator
Michigan Municipal League
Works in Ann Arbor and lives in Ypsilanti
Jay Mullick
Managing Partner, PSMI, Inc.
Owner, Mélange Bistro
Works in Saline, lives in Ann Arbor
Deb Polich
Creative: theater and costume designer (former)
The Arts Alliance & Artrain
Works and lives in Ann Arbor
Viren Shah, MBA, BE, PMP
Masco Cabinetry
Works in Ann Arbor and lives in Northville
Susan Wagner
Creative: dancer
VP & Compliance Department Manager
Bank of Ann Arbor
Works and lives in Ann Arbor
Alex West
Director of Research
Ann Arbor Spark
Works and lives in Ann Arbor

The Arts Alliance Staff

Business Manager
Natalie Hensel
734-213-2733 x4336

Newsletter & Social Media Manager
Lauren James

Deb Polich
734.213.2733 x4110

Graphic Design
Paula Popa

The Arts Alliance:

Facilitates to explore issues, conduct research, manage regranting and foster creative initiatives.

Advocates to voice the creative industries’ impact and 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 the creative industries.

Accountability & Finance

The Arts Alliance is adamant about following best practices in its fiscal oversight and developed its Financial Manual to guide the board and staff.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why should I be a member of The Arts Alliance?

Five Reasons Why You Should Join The Arts Alliance

  1. We turn to members first for opinions, insights, ideas and opportunities.
  2. We work to sustain & grow the creative sector for you, your business and your family through arts education, public art management, advocacy work and so much more.
  3. We market you – members get priority for inclusion in our bi-weekly Cultural eNewsletter, social media shout outs, listing on our website and in The Annual Arts & Cultural Guide (over 32,000 printed copies).
  4. Your support enables us to advocate for arts and cultural access and resources for you and your community. We distribute minigrants to organizations and development funds to artists and arts professionals across six counties and work to integrate arts and culture into schools.
  5. When issues arise that may impact the creative community we are there to represent you, the creative voice, and the vibrancy of the entire Washtenaw County region.

What does The Arts Alliance do?

The Arts Alliance facilitates, advocates, communicates, educates and celebrates on behalf of the creative sector in Washtenaw County.

What is the creative sector?

The Creative Sector includes all individuals, organizations and businesses that use creativity to generate and enhance their craft. Indeed, the creative sector overlaps with numerous other sectors as well – placemaking, health & well-being, economic development, government, environment, philanthropy, tourism, education, manufacturing and more! The Creative Sector of Washtenaw County consists of over 2,500 artists (musicians, performers, dancers, writers, visual artists, designers, etc.), 244 cultural organizations (visual, performing, science museums, etc.) and over 1,300 creative businesses.

Where can I find grants?

The Arts Alliance administers minigrants on behalf of the Michigan Council for Arts & Cultural Affairs for Hillsdale, Jackson, Lenawee, Livingston, Monroe and Washtenaw Counties. Information about minigrant opportunities are listed on our MCACA minigrant page. Information about MCACA’s larger grant opportunities can be find on their website. We also post information about other funding opportunities that we hear about in our biweekly Culture eNewsletter – we recommend that you subscribe!

How do I get my information in the eNewsletter?

Email your newsletter inclusion request to newsletter@a3arts.org. Include public contact information (name, email address and/or phone number), website, exact dates and times of your event (if applicable) and a brief (1-2 sentence) description. Events and calls for art or auditions are typically listed for two newsletter cycles. Please send your information to us no more than 6 weeks before the deadline.

Where do I find calls for artists or auditions?

Calls for art and audition opportunities are always listed in our biweekly Cultural eNewsletter – please subscribe (it’s free)! We also recommend keeping an eye on Creative Many for additional opportunities.

Where do I find space to create art?

Creative space options are always changing. Our biweekly Cultural eNewsletter includes a “space chase” section where we are happy to post a small free ad for you. Email your request to newsletter@a3arts.org. We will include your ad for two newsletters (4 weeks). Alternatively our staff may also have some suggestions for you depending on your needs.

Where can I find a sculptor/painter/etc.?

We feature our membership, which includes many local artists and creative organizations, in our Annual Arts and Cultural Guide. We encourage you to peruse our membership if you are looking for local creative talent and contact them directly. Looking for additional suggestions? Contact the Arts Alliance staff at info@a3arts.org and we are happy to brainstorm additional possibilities for you.

Contact Us

The Arts Alliance

1100 North Main Street, #A
Ann Arbor, MI 48104