Encore December 2019

Page 46

BACK STORY ENCORE

Kristen Chesak Executive Director, Arts Council of Greater Kalamazoo

F

or half a century, the Arts Council of Greater Kalamazoo has worked diligently to support artists and promote art in the Kalamazoo community, but it wasn’t until this year that the organization determined it needed to evolve so it could bring art to everyone in the community. When the organization announced its new mission, vision and core values this summer, at the top of the list of values was access, which Chesak says is about making the Arts Council and the arts in general inclusive to all. “We have to ask, what are these invisible stop signs that we have that make people think that the Arts Council is not for them?” Chesak says. “To be able to do that, we have to look at ourselves first and say, ‘What is it that we do that is not equitable? What is it that we do that's not inclusive and how do we start to change our behaviors?’ Because, as an

46 | ENCORE DECEMBER 2019

Brian Powers

(continued on page 45)