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Updated 1:00 PM October 4, 2005




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Spotlight: Exercising the arts

Michael Steelman considers himself a lucky guy. A coordinator of resources and student outreach at Arts at Michigan—a campus organization dedicated to integrating arts and culture into the undergraduate experience—Steelman has found a workplace that contains two of his loves: art and music.
(Photo courtesy Michael Steelman)

"My job allows me to have a creative attitude every day," he says. "I enjoy every aspect of what I do and consider myself extremely fortunate to have a job that I truly love and can put all of my energy and interest behind."

In his position at Arts at Michigan, he oversees the organization's Web site, weekly Arts Info e-newsletter and other office resources. He provides a range of services—everything from connecting a student guitarist with a faculty drummer looking for a band, to helping organize an A Cappella Council of 12 vocal groups, to finding grants for artists.

Among top accomplishments in 3 1/2 years on the job, Steelman points to the 2004 Art Ride program which placed 20 student art works in five Ann Arbor Transportation Authority buses. "It was really great to see students get so excited to see their art creations on their bus ride," he says. Eighty-five students submitted 100 works for consideration. He hopes the program will return.

"I truly feel that everyone needs to exercise the arts everyday of their life," he says, adding the philosophy of Arts at Michigan is to promote artistic expression and presentation for all, not just full-time arts professionals, and to have information available for artists who want to know about auditions, performance opportunities and more.

An alumnus of the School of Music, Steelman graduated in 2002 with a bachelor of musical arts degree, with a major in voice performance and a cognate in arts administration. He remains actively and passionately involved in choral music.

"Singing provided a focal point to direct me in college and indirectly has provided me with opportunities to plan tours, organize social events, and discover an entire profession of arts administration," he says. "Through my involvement with choral music, I have met incredible people and discovered so much of the world that I would have never had a chance to see.

Steelman currently performs with the UMS Choral Union, a 126-year-old ensemble of nearly 200 singers. The group sings large choral works with orchestras from around the world, including every December when the outfit performs Handel's Messiah with the Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra. He also sings with the Vocal Arts Ensemble and Measure for Measure, an all-male choir that began in 1988 when some Glee Club alumni wanted to continue singing after graduating from college. Members of the 90-member group range in age from 21 to over 80. They have performed around the state and have toured oversees.

"I can't put to words the feeling one receives while singing with a group of people to another group of people. To me, a choir is a perfect community. People of all different backgrounds and beliefs coming together to share skills and talents to inspire powerful feelings of harmony, peace, sadness, joy and love in others."

Steelman also enjoys photography, cooking, eating, traveling, talking with friends and playing sports.

He credits organizations including ArtServe Michigan, the University Musical Society (UMS), the University Museum of Art, the Michigan Council for the Arts and Cultural Affairs, for helping his organization fulfill its mission.

"I love learning about the diversity of our society, helping strengthen my own identity as a person in this very awesome world, and helping people discover new things to allow each day to be an incredible experience," he says.

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