Posted In: Arts & Entertainment, ,   From Issue 820   By: Robert E Martin

17th December, 2015     0

2015 proved to be a positive year for numerous arts organizations, with a canvas of creativity that  enriched the lives of people populating communities throughout the entire Great Lakes Bay region. 

Here are but a few of the highlights.


A Renaissance for Community Theatre.

Both Bay City Players and Pit & Balcony Theatre rose the bar in 2015 with their productions of several cutting edge contemporary theatrical works.  The Players began the year with the Tony Award winning comedy Vanya & Sonia & Masha & Spike, a comedy revolving around the relationships of three middle-aged single siblings, which first appeared on Broadway in 2013.

Meanwhile, Pit & Balcony continued their trend of staging controversial & ambitious works with a stunning presentation of the contemporary drama Cyblourne Park in February, which proved to be an intensely satirical, humorous, and disconcerting examination of the fault lines that permeate race and real estate.  Written in 2010 by playwright Bruce Norris in response to Lorraine Hansberry’s landmark work A Raisin in the Sun, and loosely based on historical events that took place in the city of Chicago, guiding and shaping the contours of this challenging production was director Tommy Wedge, who also scored big later this year with a sprawling, colorful, and tightly choreographed staging of the musical Hairspray.


 The Friends of Hoyt Park

With temperatures dipping and the snowfalls of winter well under way, The Friends of Hoyt Park earnestly engaged in a series of events sponsored by Dow and Ice Sponsor Catholic Family Credit Union and hosted by Positive Results in Downtown Saginaw that was entitled Bringing Back the Ice Again at Hoyt Park, which featured Free Open Skating & Sledding, $2.00 skate rentals, and Free Hot Chocolate & Cookies served at the renovated warming house during all of their featured events.

Three years ago The Friends of Hoyt Park kicked off their inaugural season of activities, ushering in the welcomed and long anticipated sight of winter ice action and thousands
of people converging to the grounds of this legendary community resource. One of the highlights was the 2nd Annual Outhouse Race that was held on Valentine’s Day.


The Chemical City Derby Girls

Forget Big Time Wrestling. In Midland the Chemical City Derby Girls convened to roar around the hardwood track in their roller skate wheels as an independent roller derby team based out of Midland. Drawing team members from the entire Tri-City area, the squad scrimmaged and competed with other teams throughout the region. The action is fast, the games are easy to watch and simple to understand, plus each of the girls carry funky nicknames.


Parkapalooza Expands

PARKAPALOOZA has delivered the very best end-of- the-summer beach party family festival in the entire Great Lakes Bay Region on the banks of Sanford Lake for 10 years now, but this year the D-Street Music Foundation finalized details on a sequel that happened live in June at Bay City’s Wenonah Park. Their inaugural Bay City event featured live performances by Loose Change, The Swaggering Rogues, The Hit Men, The Josh Ramses Band, Mandi Layne & the Lost Highway, Elements of Funk and Faultr.


Saginaw Art Museum’s Great Lakes En Plein Air Festival

This inaugural event which was sponsored through the auspices of The Saginaw Art Museum turned out to be a resounding success and pulled together 52 artists from across the state of Michigan with the goal of painting original works of art outdoors, on location, at sites throughout the region for one week in the month of June.

Plein Air painting – or painting in the outdoors on location – has been a popular method of creating art since the mid 19th century, gaining popularity in the Barbizon region of France and enduring as an esteemed technique into the 21st century.

While artists were painting, the museum hosted interactive and educational community events including Kids’ Day, Teen Day, Arty Soil Garden Luncheon, Macy’s Museum After Hours with Friends of Theodore Roethke, Vincent Van Gogh Sunflower Still Life Workshop,
a Sip ‘N Swirl class led by Bay City’s Studio 23 and a free screening of the movie Lust for Life, sponsored by the Riverside Saginaw Film Festival. Other collaborative festival events were conducted by Dow Gardens in Midland.

“Our objective is for this event to be Michigan’s - and ultimately the Midwest’s - largest and most respected Plein Air Festival,” said Mike Kolleth, chairman of the Saginaw Art Museum’s Collection Committee and member of the museum Board of Directors. “The robust turnout, the superb quality of the artwork and overall satisfaction with the inaugural event shows that we are clearly on the right path. The event has all the makings of a culture-changing event for Saginaw and the Great Lakes Bay region as a whole.”


A Bonanza of Top Notch Film Festivals

The cinematic arts truly found a home in our region with the resounding success of several film festivals designed to open the lens on cutting edge cinema. The Hells Half Mile Film & Music Festival in Bay City kicked things off in September by continuing to offer a rich panoply of documentaries and original films, symposiums, and Indie music featuring artists from throughout the country, while the Made In Michigan Film Festival held in October in Frankenmuth was more focused on Michigan-based auteurs. Finally, Saginaw’s Riverside Film Festival catered to more established works offered by filmmakers scoring big with their works at major film festivals throughout the country, giving audiences an opportunity to catch the important contributions of Directors that likely will not be seen at the Big Box theatres throughout the region.






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