For years, the University of Michigan's Penny Stamps Speaker Series has brought in astounding lecturers of all walks of life, from artists to authors to filmmakers. But what does it take to make these events possible? In this week's "creative:impact," WEMU's David Fair and Arts Alliance CEO Deb Polich go behind the scenes of the Penny Stamps Speaker Series with its director, Chrisstina Hamilton.
Creative industries in Washtenaw County add hundreds of millions of dollars to the local economy. In the weeks and months to come, 89.1 WEMU's David Fair and co-host Deb Polich, the President and CEO of The Arts Alliance, explore the myriad of contributors that make up the creative sector in Washtenaw County.
Chrisstina Hamilton is the Director of the Penny Stamps Distinguished Speaker Series and the Roman Witt Artist Residency Program at the University of Michigan, Stamps School of Art & Design. These programs present a broad spectrum of nationally and internationally regarded artists and designers to engage students, the larger University, the city of Ann Arbor and the Detroit regional community, through projects generating and presenting creative work.
The Penny Stamps Distinguished Speaker Series, offered free of charge to the general public, takes place weekly in downtown Ann Arbor at the historic Michigan Theater, a 1700 seat vaudeville palace. The typical weekly audience averages 1000 people. Recent series presenters include: Laurie Anderson, Marina Abramovic, El Anatsui, Paola Antonelli, Ken Burns, Nick Cave, Phillip Glass, Antony Gormley, Michael Graves, Bill T. Jones, Sally Mann, Mary Ellen Mark, Vik Muniz, Wangechi Mutu, Rashaad Newsome, Pussy Riot, Stefan Sagmeister, Julian Schnabel, Penelope Spheeris, Oliver Stone, and Robert Wilson.
The mission of the Roman Witt Artist Residency Program is to support the production of new work utilizing the facilities of the Stamps School and University of Michigan. The program operates through an annual international competition and awards one residency per academic year for a visiting artist/designer to develop a new work in collaboration with students and faculty. Another facet of the Roman Witt Program is the Witt Visitors Program meant to enhance curriculum in a practical manner and bring a unique creative experience to the Stamps community. Witt Visitors arrive by invitation only and present public talks, give workshops for students, conduct studio visits and participate in critiques.
Prior to joining the University of Michigan in 2005, Chrisstina was the Executive Director of the Ann Arbor Film Festival, the fifty-seven-year-old premiere showcase for experimental film. During her tenure there, she initiated the festivals foray into new media and acceptance of all screening formats for competition, while also expanding the festival week program with exhibitions, installations, performances, and salons. During her tenure with the festival, she also worked as Associate Producer for GLTV/Metrocom International on the Emmy-award winning public television documentary "The Sprawling of America."
Chrisstina is an active participant in the wider cultural landscape serving in a variety of capacities, including as a member of the Detroit Unesco City of Design Summit and Exhibition Planning Committee, the Dlectricity Curatorial Committee, Ann Arbor Film Festival Advisory Committee, Washtenaw County Arts & Cultural Leaders Forum, and as a founding member of the Programming Committee for the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit.
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