Arts Council 101 – GFAC History X

Definition: Arts Council: A service agency established to foster the health and growth of arts and cultural programming within their defined service area. All disciplines of the arts are included: Music, Dance, Literature, Theater and Visual Arts.

Greetings! For the past few years GFAC has been involved in a capacity building program called BEST (Building Equity Sustainability and Trust). BEST has assisted us in evaluating ourselves, allowing others to evaluate us, improving our technology, strategic planning and assessing our capacity to grow.

One of the recurring themes from our research is that most people have a high opinion of GFAC, but they do not fully understand our mission. We have created this column to educate our members and others who may read this publication, so you may be our ambassadors.

The story continues…the huge troll leaned down so his eyes were even with the little girls’ eyes and said in a low growl; “you’ll be plenty frightened by the time I am finished with you…”

It is the responsibility of an Arts Council to respond to the emerging needs of the community. In the early 1990’s GFAC strategic planners identified four areas where arts programming and support were needed. Some re-affirmed those identified at the Where’s Art Conferences a decade earlier. These areas would become the recipe for the next decade of successful programming for GFAC. They continue to be a vital part of program planning today.

1) Support for Local Artists
2) Support for Local Arts and Cultural Agencies
3) Arts Education
4) Marketing

This month I will write about GFAC programs designed to increase public participation in the arts throughout the greater Flint region by improving communication.

4. Marketing

In accordance with our mission … “to be a catalyst of and advocate for increased artistic and cultural enrichment of our ethnically diverse community” … GFAC strives to get all the members of our community more involved in arts and cultural programs, both as audience and as direct participants.

Communication is the key to success in increasing public involvement and support. GFAC is committed to improving communications about all arts and cultural programming throughout our diverse community. We are also committed to increasing communication between arts and cultural program providers.

We address the challenge of effective communication in a number of ways. We produce a monthly publication which promotes all the arts / cultural events in our region that we know about entitled “Where’s Art?.” There is a wealth of information in every issue of Where’s Art?, including arts and cultural productions, opportunities for visual and performing artists and updates on Greater Flint Arts Council activities. Most of this information is also posted on our Website at, our facebook page at or our general information website at Anyone can post an arts / cultural activity in our newsletter by submitting the information by the 15th of the month for the next two month’s publication to The use of is free and anyone can upload a Genesee County arts/cultural event onto this site by filling out the online application.

We man a telephone information and referral line (810-238-ARTS) and facebook where we field more than twenty thousand requests annually about local programs and productions. People call us for information about many things including where their children can get instruction and directions to cultural venues. Members of our staff stay abreast of regional programming so we can easily access correct answers to all enquiries.

We facilitate special community-wide projects. GFAC has lead the arts community through the process of Community Cultural Planning for the past thirty years. Communications is a major area of focus in the Community Cultural Plan. The latest Community Cultural Plan was accomplished in partnership with the City of Flint and was officially incorporated into the City of Flint Master Plan in October 2013. The plan is now in the implementation phase and can be reviewed at This project was generously funded by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Ruth Mott Foundation.

Another GFAC project which improves communication is the Parade of Festivals Program. The Parade of Festivals Program markets 20 festivals that take place in the downtown district of Flint together in a package utilizing newsprint, radio and television. Our goal is to improve attendance and participation in these festivals by giving the public more information and more advanced information including the major attractions and their dates. This project was also designed to attract more people to our downtown district which has seen many improvements in the past ten years as well as projects which are currently under development. We also want to improve the image of the greater Flint region by associating Flint with positive activities. This annual program is generously funded by the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation.

Greater Flint Arts Council continues to seek effective ways we can communicate to the public the wealth of artistic and cultural activities at their disposal. Word of mouth continues to be the number one way people find out about news and events. We publish Where’s Art? in the hope that all who read it will share the information contained on these pages and become arts ambassadors for the greater Flint region which includes Genesee, Lapeer, Shiawassee, northern Oakland and Livingston and southern Saginaw and Tuscola Counties.

Keep an eye out for future issues of Where’s Art where the GFAC story will continue.

Greg Fiedler