We are so pleased to celebrate our long-time donor, supporter and board member, Rachel Elsinga. She is a true lover of arts and culture and enjoys sharing that love with her family and community. She cannot imagine any kind of life without the arts, and we totally agree with her! We are excited to share her answers to our questions about her connections to the arts and why she believes they are central to a thriving life and community.
Arts Council: How did you become introduced to the Arts Council and how many years have you been a fan and supporter?
Rachel Elsinga: I have been a fan and supporter for nearly 10 years! In 2013, shortly after starting in my former role at the Tri-County Regional Planning Commission, we were host to a joint monthly meeting with the Lansing Economic Area Partnership that provided a space for economic and community development professionals to connect. It was here that I met Debbie Mikula, the executive director of the Arts Council at the time, and the rest is history!
AC: What are some of your favorite memories of your involvement with the organization?
RE: Looking back, I have to say that serving as a steering committee member for the first Creative Placemaking Summit was a phenomenal experience. If you have ever been a small part of something big and new, then you know what I mean when I say the energy was electric! To see how this amazing event has grown over the years by challenging itself annually to evolve to serve both creatives AND communities continues to inspire me.
AC: What personal connections to arts and culture do you have in Greater Lansing?
RE: I had the good fortune of growing up locally, with the arts playing an active role in my life from a very early age. From playing music to attending shows at the Wharton, Riverwalk, and Boarshead theaters, to always attending every East Lansing Art Festival, from countless coffee shops and local bars to hear artists play or to visit their work at local galleries, I was out experiencing the arts every chance I could. My love and appreciation for the arts has come full circle as a member of the Arts Council board.
AC: What is important about the arts for you?
RE: I truly cannot imagine a life without the arts – in any and every capacity! Can you think of a more beautiful and broad-scoping medium to which creativity and connection thrive? The arts are everything to me. During times of struggle and sorrow to moments of pure bliss, the arts are that one constant that humanity can, without fail, rely on.
AC: What is "your thing" in the arts? (What are your favorite arts activities?)
RE: Right now – creating with my kiddo. He is incredibly enthusiastic about “all the things art, Momma.” From dancing and singing to painting and crafting – exploring this space with him, seeing the joy it brings him, is my whole heart.
AC: What are your hopes for the role of arts and culture in our region in the future?
RE: To be integrated into every workspace and public place. For K-12 creative class budgets to have a surplus. The community planner in me hopes and wishes for a sustainable funding mechanism (Regional trust fund? Millages for the arts?) to support arts and culture in perpetuity for the Greater Lansing Region.