East Lansing Art Festival Shake-Up Happens Just Weeks Before Event

Thursday, April 18, 2019, 7:30 am
By: 
Mark Meyer

For the second time in less than a month, a prominent East Lansing festival has been beset by upheaval.

City Manager George Lahanas is expected Thursday to name an interim director of the East Lansing Art Festival in place of the recently dismissed Michelle Carlson.

Attempts this week to reach Carlson – whose salary as festival director was paid by the City – were unsuccessful.

Attempts to reach Tim Schmitt, chairman of the East Lansing Art Festival Foundation – which coordinates a majority of the fundraising for the Festival – were also unsuccessful.

Earlier this month, officials at Michigan State University confirmed the cancellation of the long-running Great Lakes Folk Festival, which had brought a variety of musical entertainment to the community during the summer from 2002 through 20017.

The 56th East Lansing Art Festival, which draws artists and their works from around the Midwest, will be held May 18-19 in downtown East Lansing.

Alison Alfredson, spokesperson and chair of the Art Festival board of directors, told ELi yesterday that assignments for this year’s festival were divided up among board members at a meeting Tuesday night, at which time board members learned of Lahanas’ intent to hire an interim director.

In addition to Alfredson, other board members present at the meeting were Rose Vadnais, Kristin Hofman, Kayla Finertie, Kevin Liuzzo and Kendra Church. Svitlana Martynjuk resigned her board position prior to Tuesday’s meeting.

Despite the last-minute change in leadership, Alfredson is confident that the festival will not be negatively affected nor will it offer anything less than what it has over the past 55 years.

“When we met Tuesday, we lined things up and divided the responsibilities,” Alfredson said. “Of course, we all have more work to do and it will require more time and effort from the remaining board members. When I first became a board member, there were twelve (12) of us. Now there are six.”

As was the case last year, the main stage and food court will be located in the Bailey Street surface parking lot, behind the Peanut Barrel. The festival will continue from there west down Albert Avenue to M.A.C. Avenue. (To see a map, click here.)

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Photo courtesy City of East Lansing.

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