Marquette Arts & Culture – We’re building a shared vision for the Marquette Cultural Community

Written by Tiina Morin – City Arts & Culture Manager

The City of Marquette’s arts and culture scene has grown dramatically in the last twenty years, new creative businesses, festivals, conferences, public art, and countless events. While brand new creatives are making their mark, established, longstanding cultural organizations and institutions continue to grow both fiscally and programmatically. Hiawatha Music Cooperative, Marquette City Band, Lake Superior Theater, Marquette County Quilters, Marquette Blues Festival, Peter White Public Library, Marquette Symphony, Lake Superior Art Association, and countless others are unwavering and provide the foundation for our cultural landscape to grow and thrive. We must all work together to ensure we have the resources and infrastructure in place to meet the needs of this unique and fast-growing sector that not only supports the local economy but adds so much to our daily quality of life.

In the final year of a Ten-Year Arts and Culture Master Plan, the City Arts and Culture Advisory Committee are reviewing the objectives and goals accomplished and those still outstanding. To this end we held a State of the Arts meeting and sent a follow-up survey to begin to identify the current challenges.

Three strategies continue to stand out.

Cultural Development and Access to Services

In the past decade, arts and culture have been successfully integrated into city planning and capital projects. A recent initiative includes incorporating space for future public art in the new viewing piers. The city is seeking funding to transform the vacant former chamber building at Father Marquette Park (501 S Front St.) into a vibrant public space for arts, heritage, recreation, and sustainable downtown development. This project, featuring an indoor/outdoor placemaking space, public events, gallery, trailhead, and arts/cultural office space, will serve as a gateway to the historic downtown area. It will also connect to regional trail systems and the downtown business area, enhancing economic development and community vitality.

Retain the City’s Role in Supporting Arts and Culture

  • Ensure City Planning, and Policies are Supportive of Arts and Culture.
  • Provide Access to City Resources and Services
  • Measure and Articulate Value of Creative Industries.

“We could use a street level, high visibility community space to showcase all of the amazing things currently happening.”

Creative Spaces

Flexible venue demand is a top priority; existing spaces like the Peter White Public Library’s Community Room, Kauffman Auditorium, Masonic Theater, Forest Roberts Theater, Reynolds Recital Hall, and Presque Isle *Band Shell don’t meet everyone’s needs. Local groups continue to explore a larger, modern performing arts center, but smaller companies and longer runs require additional venues. Partnerships among stakeholders of all sizes are crucial for addressing the community’s needs effectively with affordable and sustainable solutions that support existing and future venues.

Ensure an Attractive, Supportive & Sustainable Environment for Artists & Creative Businesses.

  • Continuing to Develop and Provide a Creative Resource Hub (MQT COMPASS).
  • Provide Creative Infrastructure for artists to live, work and thrive. This Includes venues, makers spaces and affordable housing.

“There are a lot of people and organizations competing for the same limited number of places to exhibit perform and meet.”

* City of Marquette and Marquette City Band are partnering to secure funding for a new Presque Isle Band Shell. Contact us for more information on the Band Shell project (906)228-0472

Creative Collaborations

For a small town, the arts and culture community is large enough that we do not know all the players. The development of a local alliance was a high priority within the current Arts and Culture Master Plan. Ten years ago, there was an effort to create an alliance, unfortunately it did not gain traction. The Office pivoted to help form the Upper Peninsula Arts and Culture Alliance (UPACA). This regional organization serves all fifteen counties and has recently partnered with the City to create an Artist Directory and Arts Economic Impact Study. There is a renewed interest in working together to address the growing challenges, The City will continue to serve as a neutral entity to facilitate these relationships and work towards developing a local Cultural Alliance.

Build Partnerships that Foster Communication and Collaboration

  • Establishing a local alliance, to encourage partnership and collaboration, shared resources, opportunities, marketing, promotion, and advocacy efforts.

“Groups compete with one another for financial support instead of collaborating with each other.”

Art Week as an Engagement Tool

2023 Project Lead: Solomon Kronberg, Research Consultant

This year’s Art Week Festival considers Marquette’s identity by asking local creatives to engage Home as an artistic theme. The choice in direction reflects a swell in inquiries into what sort of place Marquette is and wants to become; the recent Master Plan Renewal Project asked citizens to imagine a vision for our city’s downtown, housing, and environment through an online survey and participatory open houses featuring interactive prompts and maps. These events allow citizens to share their values and what Marquette means to them. It’s an essential exercise in a growing city that wants to remain true to its roots.

Indeed, considering Home through art presents an opportunity to engage the public in new ways. Art Week 2023 will feature an Impact Assessment project focusing on two questions; how does a festival like Art Week benefit our community economically, and how can art help chart Marquette’s path into the future? Answering these questions requires methods that collect qualitative information rather than solely quantitative data; to learn about the future, we need to ask why and how rather than only what and how much. Like the Master Plan’s participatory approach, the project will create surveys, discussions, and other opportunities for festivalgoers to share information and reflect on how art helps us consider what Home means.

^^^ Click Here for a full schedule of City Cultural Conversations ^^^

Be a part of the Qualitative Data
Contribute to the City Cultural Conversations during Art Week.12pm each day, these events explore a variety of topics concerning our community and local culture.

What is Qualitative Data?

Qualitative data is information that doesn’t rely on numbers. Instead, it gives us descriptive details about how people see the world and why.

Usually gathered through interviews or observation, it can help identify patterns or themes that tell us something about the world.

Arts & Economic Prosperity 6

The AEP6 is the sixth edition of a comprehensive study on the economic impact of nonprofit arts and culture organizations in the United States. This study, conducted every five years, measures the effects of both organizational spending and event-related spending by audiences on employment, government revenue, and household income. The study also tailors economic models for each community to provide detailed data on the local impact of the arts and culture industry.

The City Office of Arts and Culture has partnered with the Upper Peninsula Arts and Culture Alliance to participate throughout the U.P. as well as highlight Marquette. The results of AEP6 will be shared as a part of the City’s Annual Art Awards in October 2023.

2014 Arts & Culture Masterplan

For the State of the Arts event hosted in April 2023, the City Office of Arts & Culture staff reviewed the current masterplan objectives with over 100 community members representing all sectors of the local creative community. This was the introductory event to the 2024 Arts & Culture Master Plan renewal process. 

More State of the Arts events will be hosted throughout 2023 and early 2024 to better understand what the Marquette community needs and how our City Office of Arts & Culture can best serve its residents. If you are interested in this process, please reach out to the Office to find out how to get involved in advocating for the Marquette creative community.

Visit Our Office

217 N Front Street
Lower Level of the Peter White Public Library

Office Hours:
Monday-Friday 10am – 5pm
Gallery and Studios are open during Library Hours

Contact Us
(906) 228-0472