Arts and culture opportunities for everyone

Executive Director Alisha Siebers, Vicksburg Cultural Arts Center

The Vicksburg Cultural Arts Center is growing! In 2022, participation in all of our signature programs increased dramatically.
Last spring, we had a blast judging the 83 submissions to the all-ages Tournament of Writers competition. We read a wide range of stories featuring zombies, space adventures, and encounters with monsters — and that was just from the adult writers! At the end of the Tournament, we published all of the entries in our Small Town Anthology and celebrated our writers with a book-signing party. The Tournament returns a little earlier in 2023: We’ll be accepting entries through our website during the month of February.

We can’t keep up with the demand for youth programming. Our Art of Nature Camps offered at the Vicksburg Outdoor Education Center were bursting at the seams, so we doubled our sessions. At our camps, kids work with experienced artists to try new art forms: silk screening T-shirts, working with clay, collaborating on murals, writing and drawing ‘zines, and painting lilies by the pond. Kids worked with local favorite BenJammin’ to write songs, with Kalamazoo Glass Arts to design suncatchers, and with Wellspring Dancers to learn some new moves. These camps are great opportunities for our local kids, especially for those who might find going all the way to Kalamazoo a challenge. Thanks to the kind hearts of local donors, we never send a child away due to inability to pay. We hope to expand and offer even more weeks of camp next year. Registration will start on our website June 1, 2023.

Young adults enjoyed their own encounters with professional artists and musicians at the Arts Exploration Lab for Teens last May. After consulting with teens about what they would like to learn, we provided them with workshops in henna body art, stage combat, special effects makeup, terrarium building, and hip-hop dance choreography. Students who knew how to play instruments worked with a WMU instructor to learn jazz improvisation and performed as the first act in the open mic night at the culmination of the event.

The adults told us they were jealous of our youth programming, so we packaged an exciting Destination Japan series for them. In downtown Vicksburg, people from all around the county gathered to learn about bonsai, sushi, woodblock printing, the game “Go,” and manga. Our series culminated in a performance by the world-famous Theatre Nohgaku, who demonstrated the techniques of classical noh theater at the Schoolcraft High School auditorium. We are currently rounding up artists and specialists for the next world destination; stay tuned for the unveiling of the 2023 Destination! Now that people are getting out more, we will be ramping up our adult programming, offering more adult classes and more music next year. A key part of our 2023 plans will be engaging and supporting local artists, writers, musicians and other creative people.

In addition to these programs, we have made a special effort to bring arts and culture to where the people are. At the Historic Village Harvest festival, families helped us create a pinwheel garden. At the Farmer’s Market and at the Parks and Rec movie night, we provided free projects like painting garden rocks, creating clothes-pin fairies, and making solar paper designs. The South County Fiber Arts group has been out in public, too, demonstrating its traditional arts. The group’s weekly meetings are a great place for the next generation to learn how to spin and knit. At the Vicksburg 150th Anniversary Kick-Off, we brought in origami artist Aerick Burton to help us make an autumn tree. Folks wrote their hopes for the next 150 years on papers and attached their folded butterflies to the tree. You can see the Tree of Hope on display in the Prairie Ronde gallery.

We’re able to offer these experiences to South Kalamazoo County residents because of generous grants from many foundations, including the Vicksburg Foundation, the Gilmore Foundation, and the Upjohn Foundation. Thanks to our partnerships with places like The Mill at Vicksburg, Gilbert and Ivy Bookstore, and the Vicksburg and Schoolcraft libraries, we have wonderful locations for our events. Most importantly, though, are the donations from the everyday folks around town. When we apply for these grants on behalf of our region, we are required to show that our community is supporting the VCAC through donations of funds and through volunteerism. Thank you to everyone who has rallied around the VCAC to provide these outstanding free and low-cost experiences for our community. We couldn’t do any of this without you! If you would like to volunteer, donate, or keep informed about our events, visit our website at We’re looking forward to involving as many people as we can in local arts and culture next year.

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