UPHP makes $2K commitment to City of Marquette Office of Arts and Culture program

MARQUETTE, Mich. (WLUC) – Upper Peninsula Health Plan (UPHP) has made a $2,000 commitment to the City of Marquette Office of Arts and Culture in support of Artists in Excellence (AIE). UPHP currently serves over 55,000 members across the Upper Peninsula, and its network exceeds over 3,400 providers.

According to a press release from UPHP, the funding was generously matched by the Community Foundation of Marquette County’s Youth Fund for Marquette. AIE is a brand-new cross-district program that provides unique arts-based extracurricular experiences for students from Negaunee, Marquette, and Ishpeming High Schools.

AIE is administered by the Office of Arts and Culture and created in partnership with local art teachers: Jake Fether, Alex Trotter, and Kimberly Shefchik. The program provides a much-needed extra-curricular opportunity for upperclassmen who are currently enrolled in art and have demonstrated a high level of commitment and talent in their artistic medium. “We are very grateful for UPHP and the Community Foundation’s generous support in making this program a reality. While there are several music, theater, and sports-based activities within the public schools and the community, there is little available for students interested in the visual arts”, says Tiina Morin, City Arts and Culture Manager.

AIE strives to:

• Develop positive relationships with other students across districts

• Understand the role and contribution of Arts in the community

• Discover professional and personal paths in the Arts

• Cultivate creative potential

• Foster leadership and self-confidence

• Connect with local opportunities, mentorships, internships, and summer jobs

Together, students explore the area’s cultural offerings and creative careers available locally in arts education, business, marketing, design, public art, placemaking, tech arts, and others. Students meet three times per month for field trips and interactive experiences off the beaten path. In addition, the group will identify and lead a community art project and install the City’s Annual High School Art Show this spring. Collectively they will Advocate for their school’s arts program and AIE through presentations to Classmates and incoming freshmen.

An important component of the program is learning the value of partnerships and community. All three teachers identified the need for some kind of extracurricular arts program but did not have the time and resources to do it alone. According to Tiina Morin, City Arts and Culture Manager, “the arts do not recognize municipal boundaries and that by partnering with our neighboring communities, we are stronger. Since this is the first year, we asked students to design the program’s logo. They discussed how high schools always seem to be in competition with one another, and that they are often identified by where they live and go to school. It was important for them not to use school colors or symbols in the logo, and that they be seen as one”.

“While not all the students participating plan on Pursuing Careers in the arts, all fifteen understand the value of the arts and how it applies to their community and ongoing education but also to their health and wellness,” said Morin. The Office of Arts and Culture serves to encourage, develop, and facilitate an enriched environment of artistic creativity and cultural activity in the City of Marquette by advocating for the value of local arts, cultural heritage, and the creative economy.

To learn more, visit www.mqtcompass.com.

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