Celebrating its 51st anniversary in 2023, the mission of the Shiawassee Arts Council (SAC) is to sponsor and encourage participation and appreciation of the arts in Shiawassee County and its surrounding area. SAC may research, plan, develop, and present quality arts and cultural activities that educate, entertain, and enhance the quality of life in our community.
Arts Center History
SAC was established in Owosso in 1972 and operates out of the Shiawassee Arts Center through a 99-year lease, signed in 2005 with the City of Owosso. Located in Curwood Castle Park overlooking the Shiawassee River in downtown Owosso, the Arts Center has nine galleries, multiple classrooms, meeting space, and a permanent art collection on three levels totaling 8,700 square feet. In 2008, SAC completed a major expansion of the Arts Center, increasing gallery and education spaces. The expansion was funded through organizational revenues, a state grant, and private support from two major donors. The Arts Center is accessible to persons with disabilities by a three-floor elevator addition funded with a 2014 state of Michigan capital improvement grant and matching funds from a donor bequest. The Arts Center is open seven days a week. Admission is free and open to the public.
SAC is a non-profit, 501(c)3 corporation with a staff of six and a volunteer board of 15 members. In 2017, membership totaled 1,216 with over 300 children and adults serving as volunteers during the year. Exhibitions in 2017 featured the work of 218 artists from the local area and across Michigan, working in multi-media, highlighted by free, monthly public receptions with the exhibiting artists. Consignment galleries provide a year-round sales outlet for local artists and a means of revenue for SAC. One gallery is dedicated to the work of Owosso-born and internationally renowned impressionist artist, Frederick C. Frieseke (1874-1939). Adjacent to the Arts Center is Curwood Castle, the onetime writing studio of author James Oliver Curwood. The Arts Center is a popular destination for local residents and visitors alike, with over 31,000 visitors recorded in 2017.
SAC acts as an “umbrella organization” for the arts organizations in the community providing meeting, classroom, and workshop space for other local arts and civic groups. SAC works extensively with other organizations, businesses, and individuals to fund and produce initiatives promoting the creation and appreciation of art. Successful program partnerships include annual Creative Arc classes for developmentally disabled youth with the ARC Shiawassee 2010-2018; Summer Art Camps with DeVries Nature Conservancy 2009-2018; Celebration Youth Arts Month exhibit with Wendy’s Restaurant of Owosso 2008-2018; 12-week historic 2016 exhibition Made in Owosso and 2017 Owosso Historic Home Tour with the Owosso Historical Commission; annual Dancing with the Starz fundraiser with Owosso Community Players; and annual Art in the Park with the Curwood Festival.
Seniors are a large and growing segment of our community’s population that currently do not have access to, and opportunities for, experiences with art and culture. In 2017-18, with support from MCACA and the Cook Family Foundation, SAC is partnering with the Shiawassee Council on Aging to provide a new and innovative community-based art program, SMARTS (Shiawassee Mobile ART for Seniors). SAC, which administers the program, offers quality art activities and cultural programs at the Owosso, Durand, and Morrice Senior Centers and the Arts Center three days a week, 42 weeks a year, to Shiawassee County seniors. Due to measured positive impacts of the SMARTS program on the participating seniors, SAC hopes to expand the program, with grant support, to Shiawassee County seniors residing in assisted living facilities and nursing homes.
Multi-dimensional art classes, including but not limited to, drawing, watercolor, pottery, jewelry, glass fusing, for children and adults are offered by SAC throughout the year, with 1,988 students served in 2017. Ongoing weekly classes are offered to children from pre-school through eighth grade. Multi-media Summer Art Camps are offered for school-age students. SAC’s classes also feature sessions designed specifically for persons with disabilities in The Creative Arc program and with New Horizons. In addition, SAC provides over $2,000 in annual art scholarships to support the continuing education of artistically talented area high school students, with more than $77,000 awarded since 1972.