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Under the Bridge and Creative Placemaking

 I am a believer that a place is made special by utilizing the arts as a driving force for change, improvement and revitalization. Our pride of place is defined as that which is unique, authentic and special...this is what draws residents, visitors and businesses to our area.    

So without hesitation, the Arts Council jumped at the chance to be one of the key partners in the Under the Bridge Project — a major intersection between Lansing and East Lansing on Michigan Avenue at the 127 Overpass — and a place that is being made special by the artistry of lights and murals. 

 For 50 years, we've been the leader to support, strengthen and promote arts and culture in the capital region and this project falls squarely as one of most ambitious and energizing projects we've had the pleasure to work on. 

For the past two and half years, the Arts Council has invested time and talent on this project in close partnership with LEAP, the City of Lansing, the Lansing Board of Water & Light, MEDC and all who contributed through the patronicity campaign.  And with good reason. We know that when we work in partnership to grow our competitive advantage, we will literally shine our light as one of the truly unique and creative capital cities. 

 A few nights ago, we had the pleasure to help unveil the first part of the project. The lights. And I'm proud to say that the artistry of this light installation goes beyond just merely being a utility.  We had a challenge to overcome in the shadows under the bridge, and we found an artistic and creative solution in the light. Shadow to Light! Our goal was to remove a barrier and reset how we feel about our safety, our pride of place, and our connection to each other when we move through this space. 

 With the flip of a switch, a dark and gloomy entry into our great city became a luminous and glowing gateway, a welcome beacon no matter if you travel east to Michigan State University, or you travel west to the Capital City of Michigan. The "Under the Bridge" project has created an amazing artistic transformation connecting us to each other. 

 I guess I am just as excited that this is only the beginning of what arts and creative thinking can do to brighten and energize the entire region. Just wait...we've got another unveiling in this same location later this summer to showcase the talents of Brian Whitfield and the four murals that will take concrete canvas to extraordinary artworks.  This is the kind of partnership that allows us all to bring our own unique talents to the table to achieve something greater than the sum of its parts. We are proud partners!   

Deborah E. Mikula 

 Executive Director