The Sanilac Consortium for the Arts board consists of 5 members. Each member serves a 2 year term. The current board members are:
Sanilac Consortium for the Arts was born to organize and operate the Northshire Renaissance Faire in Port Sanilac. The fair ran for eight seasons through the 1980's, providing an active performance opportunity for many area residents who sang, danced, learned to juggle and rope walk, wrote and performed skits and prepared and presented characters throughout the day.
One of the popular attractions at the fair was a swing boat ride developed and built primarily by Richard Walsh and Walt Schlichting. The organization arranged to set up a similar ride at the Michigan Renaissance Festival near Flint. This was operated by SCA volunteers to benefit the organization.
After the local fair ended in 1989, it became more difficult to cover the seven festival weekends with volunteers, so rather than give up the business, SCA sold the ride and the right to operate it to Richard Walsh and some of the Schlichtings who were interested in operating the concession.
This sale provided a block of capital. The organization determined the best use of this capital was to invest it and use the proceeds to encourage the development of local talents in the arts and help provide venues for those talents.
Community Arts Support...
Taking advantage of our own profitability, the SCA had already helped support other local efforts that were not able to entirely fund themselves, such as the Bark Shanty Dinner Theatre group. Our contribution helped cover initial costs so they were safe from taking a loss on a show.
SCA also became a corporate umbrella for groups of local people who wanted to perform. Hole in the Bog Morris dancers and Mummers started at the Northshire Fair, developed into a group that qualified for inclusion in the Michigan Touring Artists guide, eligible for state grants and began to generate profits over the cost of their touring and training trips that were left with the SCA. We helped organize performance or demonstration opportunities at area events for locals who performed or demonstrated arts and fine crafts.
Port Sanilac Fine Arts Association used SCA to apply for grants to run their annual Fine Arts show at the museum.
SCA began a series of summer music concerts at the harbor in the 1990s, about one year before Lexington began theirs. After a few years this event was taken over by other volunteers from the Port Sanilac DDA and business community. SCA continued to financially support the event.
SCA also began presenting a free mid-winter concert featuring local performers who signed up for the show. This “Beat the Mid-Winter Blues” annual concert brought together the people who started the open mic concert series in Lexington, which still runs six months a year. SCA underwrote the start up, though the first series of concerts took in enough donations that our money was not needed.
In 2002 the same folks who set up that series, including our board members Maggie Ewalt and Tom Schlichting, started the Thumbfest Music Festival at a camp near Port Sanilac. The Blue Water Folk Society was incorporated in 2004 and SCA turned over the operating surplus we had held for them and a new non-profit arts corporation was born.
During this period, SCA also started a small-grant program for school-related arts programs. These $250 grants helped talented students raise money to participate in performance classes at Interlochen, supported musical theater at Sandusky Middle School, drama and musicals at Sandusky High School, CPS and Cros-Lex, band camp scholarships and other arts activities. The middle school teacher at Sandusky Middle School used our funding to obtain guitars and teach a guitar class that trained student musicians and also engaged at-risk students and kept them in school.
Occasionally the SCA made larger one-time gifts that would assist the long-term accommodation for the arts. One of the largest went to the Sanilac County Historical Society to help them purchase the barn on the grounds which hosts the Barn Theatre.
The single-largest continuing support we had given was the annual donation to Music at the Harbor in Port Sanilac. SCA was also used as the umbrella organization for state grant writing to support these local events. In 2014 the DDA determined to move away from the weekly concert format. They were trying to establish single events that would draw more attention, beginning with a blues festival. The DDA has not requested support for this event. The group that took the name Music at the Harbor to operate the series, as well as other activities such as arts trips for the schools and music at the Farmers Market, is not receiving DDA support this year, and does not have sufficient money from their state grants to operate their remaining planned programs.
Some of our original efforts have inspired self-supporting organizations, like the Blue Water Folk Society, and self-supporting events like the coffeehouse series and Thumbfest. That is good, but they did not need us anymore. Other local efforts, like the Bark Shanty Dinner Theatre, Hole in the Bog, the Port Sanilac Fine Arts Festival and the concerts at the harbor, have faded away.
For thirty years the Sanilac Consortium for the Arts has developed and promoted arts projects dynamically and supported other local people who developed performance and arts projects. We continue to seek projects to support and provide funding for. Contact us if you have an idea or, need support for any arts project in Sanilac County.
In 2016, along with providing funding for several arts programs, the SCA along with the Sanilac Historical Society presented the first "Singin' the 60's Festival" held on the museum grounds. This event was a success and is going to be even bigger for 2017.