The Arts Alliance

The Arts Alliance is a leader championing, advocating and supporting 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. Broad- based engagement and the Washtenaw County Cultural Master Plan informs the work of The Arts Alliance. Not only does it include working behind the scenes on conducting needs assessments for arts and creative education, administering grants and managing research projects, but also front and center managing public art and design projects and presenting annual awards for excellence. The Arts Alliance is an essential partner with the business, tourism, philanthropic, government, education and other sectors on numerous programs to integrate art and culture in all aspects of civic life of the county.

A membership organization, The Arts Alliance works with its 260+ members to aid and partner with thousands of creative individuals and hundreds of creative businesses located within the county, who in turn serve 356,000 residents, including 47,000 preK-12 students, in addition to 80,000 university students and 6.4 million visitors to the region.

With and on behalf of Washtenaw County’s creative industries, The Arts Alliance:

  • Facilitates, to explore issues, conduct research, manage re-granting 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.


The Arts Alliance Staff

Elizabeth (Liz) Andrews, program manager – arts & creative education, liz.andrews@a3arts.org, x705

Natalie Hensel, business manager, natalie.hensel@a3arts.org, x704

Lauren James, communications manager, lauren.james@a3arts.org

Deb Polich, president/CEO, deb.polich@a3arts.org, x701

Paula Popa, graphic designer, paula.popa@a3arts.org

Daniel Rivkin, communications advisor, daniel.rivkin@a3arts.org

The Arts Alliance Board Members

Co-chair, Britany Affolter-Caine, program director, University Research Corridor, lives in Ypsilanti, works in Lansing

Co-chair, Colby Spencer Cesaro, vice president, Michigan Independent Colleges & Universities, lives in Dexter, works in Lansing

Kim Easter, regional director of development, University of Michigan Law School, lives and works in Ann Arbor

Treasurer, Merrill Guerra, realtor & staging professional, Guerra Realty, lives and works in Ypsilanti

Mike Henry, senior advisor, Cavanaugh Advisors, lives and works in Ann Arbor

Linette Lao, founder & designer, Invisible Engines, lives and works in Ypsilanti

Ruth Lednicer, director of media and communications, Planned Parenthood of Michigan, lives and works in Ann Arbor

Melissa Milton Pung, ‎project manager, Economic Development & Historic Preservation at Washtenaw County, lives and works in Ypsilanti

Jay Mullick,  executive director and co-founder of Production Services Management Inc. & owner of Melange Bistro, Lives in Ann Arbor and works in Saline

President, Deb Polich, president/CEO of The Arts Alliance & Artrain, Inc., lives and works in Ann Arbor

Viren Shah, CIO, Masco Cabinetry, lives in Northville and works in Ann Arbor

Susan Wagner, VP of compliance, Bank of Ann Arbor, lives and works in Ann Arbor

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.

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!

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 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.

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 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.

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.

The Arts Alliance

1100 North Main Street, Suite 106B

Ann Arbor, MI 48104