Every city, large or small, needs its own art. Whether it’s the Motor City, or the Island City, art is what provides a community with a healthy distraction, an adoration for what’s beautiful, and a unifying centerpiece that everyone can call their own. The Eaton Rapids Quality of Life Board is doing what it can to give the Island City an array of community projects through the work of various subcommittees like the River Recreation Committee, Parks Development Committee, Northwestern Park Committee, and the Youth Teen Initiative. The newest, and fully active, subcommittee is the Eaton Rapids Arts Council.

“If you build it they will come,” said Christopher Sebastian, chairman of the new arts council. “Anything that can attract emotion from individuals can be good for a community. If there’s an attraction that peaks interest people will come check it out. Anything that can develop foot traffic is great for a community.”

The arts council was established to evaluate the assets and blank spaces in the Eaton Rapids downtown, and pinpoint areas where visual art could be displayed. Although to date the arts council has only gathered three times, the four-to-five person council has already selected a few front-running ideas for potential art projects. It’s too early to say which ideas will come to action, according to Sebastian, but the ideas keep coming.

“There’s a lot of opportunity and a lot of creative people, it’s just connecting the two,” Sebastian said. “Just by doing some small things we could make Eaton Rapids a cool place to come to.”

The positive impact of an art rich community is immeasurable, according to Sebastian. From creating more tourist traffic, to providing a community’s youth an outlet for creativity, cities that cultivate a love and respect for art prosper.

“It makes the community better for everyone,” Sebastian said. “In school I took every art class I could possibly take. Young people may not have interests in typical academia, but art is a good way to express yourself.”

Sebastian studied graphic design and graphic arts at Lansing Community College and Siena Heights University. He is just one of the creatives to partake in the arts council brainstorming. Visual artists have the unique ability to look at a blank space and imagine dozens of possibilities of murals, portraits, landscapes, and more. Simple brick walls become faces of famous and local icons. An open street corner can suddenly have an abstract statue dedicated to a local cause or community figure.

“There’s a lot of blank spaces and walls throughout Main St. that could be used to display,” Sebastian said.

Along with brainstorming potential projects and areas for display, the arts council is evaluating the local talent that could contribute and shape the esthetic of Eaton Rapids. In doing so the council is trying to discover how Eaton Rapids will shape its own esthetic, as opposed to imprinting one not representative of the city.

“We want to stick with local and mid-Michigan artists,” he said.

The arts council and the other Quality of Life Board subcommittees are looking for more enthusiastic volunteers.

“Each committee of the Quality of Life Board is limited, but as a whole they can do a lot. We don’t just want to attract interest in community, but attract participation,” Sebastian said. “We’re always looking for interested people.”

Readers interested in volunteering with the arts council are welcome to attend arts council meetings the second Wednesday of each month at City Hall, starting at 6 p.m. To learn more about other ways to be involved with Quality of Life Board subcommittees, contact Quality of Life Director Troy Stowell at Eaton Rapids City Hall at (517) 663-8118, or by email tstowell@cityofeatonrapids.com.