The Les Cheneaux Area Artisan Cooperative began when founding members realized that there were talented people in the area who were only able to do art as a hobby or side-job. It seemed that something should be done to help make it possible for artists to make a living, and they began looking into marketing cooperatives and other tools. The Cooperative was established in March of 2001 to create a broader market for local artisans, educate local consumers, and give artisans tools for professional development. The goal was to help members bridge the gap from hobby to business, and also set an encouraging example for young artists and artisans.
The first public event for LCAAC was actually before its official founding; members donated work to a Silent Auction at SnowsFest in 2001 to raise funds for the nascent Cooperative. The auction was continued the following year, and the Cooperative also did a fundraising concert featuring Michigan singer/songwriter Claudia Schmidt. Many other early efforts established visibility in the community, including a Cooperative booth at the Boat Show/Festival of Arts which enabled those who did not yet have a large body of work to exhibit, as well as a summer Cooperative display at the Les Cheneaux Community Library from 2004-2009.
Early professional development opportunities included workshops on photographing work and on basic marketing. In 2001 LCAAC held the first Art in the Park in Cedarville, which at that time included many artist demonstrations for the public; Music & Art Dockside in Hessel, another annual member show which includes musical entertainment, followed in 2004. A smaller event held at the studio of LCAAC member Roger Kilponen, Boat Show Afterglow, was started in 2014. Winter holiday studio tours were launched in 2012. Community accomplishments include involvement with Frog Fest from 2005-2009, awarding $1,500 to the Les Cheneaux Community School for student arts enrichment, and sending member artists to the school for weekly demonstrations and workshops as part of an Elementary Art Project Grant in 2009, donating a hanging display for 2-dimensional artwork to the library in 2009, coordinating Art Hop from 2012-2014, and participation in Middle School Art Enrichment at the school for the 2014/2015 school year.
The ongoing work of the Cooperative is sustained by the Cooperative Board and member volunteers. Recently, new policies were adopted to encourage active participation by a larger percentage of the membership. LCAAC continues to hold Art in the Park, Music & Art Dockside, Boat Show Afterglow, and a December holiday art event every year, and in May of 2016 opened the Old Shell Gallery in Cedarville. The ongoing goals of the Les Cheneaux Area Artisan Cooperative are to serve members and the community by expanding the market for members’ work, implementing marketing tools for our members, developing educational opportunities, and encouraging new artists and craftsmen.
Become a member of the Les Cheneaux Area Artisan Cooperative: