What The Arts Council Does…


We provide opportunities to participate in providing art, entertainment and educational events throughout the community in a variety of locations.

Here is just a sampling of activities we have sponsored over the years.

In 2011  MCAAC sponsored four bi-weekly summer children’s art workshops with local artist Carmel Desy Peppler in 2011. This year we will be sponsoring three Children’s Arts and Crafts workshops in the Village pavilion (behind the school facing Perrot Street), beginning Thursday, June 27, July 18 and August 8,  from 10:00am until 12:00pm. Our Artist-In-Residence is Aliana Lee.  The workshop is free to all ages, no registration is required.  Ages 6 and under must be accompanied by and adult.  First come first serve. (20 Person Limit) Wear clothes to get creative in. For questions contact Aliana at email hidden; JavaScript is required

Our first Plein Air event began in 2012 with artists documenting the beauty of the straits in oil, watercolor and pastels, judged by Sharon Tarr. In 2013 we sponsored a very successful adult painting workshop with Sharon Tarr as instructor.

In 2013 we sponsored the “Desy Exhibit” in cooperation with the Mackinaw Area Public Library. At that time, it was our most ambitious project to date. Many owners of Mr. Desy’s paintings graciously loaned them for the exhibit curated by Carmel Desy Peppler. In addition to the exhibit, we sponsored a Saturday trolley tour of Mr. Desy’s murals that can be found in public buildings, stores and private homes in Mackinaw City.

In 2014 we collaborated with Joann Condino from Three Pines Studio in Cross Village and Mary Stewart Adams from the Dark Sky Park on the Orion Project at Mackinaw School. The Orion project was based on the story of Jack in the Beanstalk as described to students by Mary Stewart Adams in the context of the constellation “Orion”. This work went on display at the Pellston Regional Airport in June of 2014.

In 2015 we organized and presented in collaboration with the Mackinaw Area Historical Society a week long “Discovery Camp” for 4th-8th grade students, providing an outreach to young people wanting to learn about history, science and art opportunities in the Mackinaw City area. This first year the program was funded through a grant received from the Petoskey Harbor Springs Community Foundation.

We had three seasons of the Mackinaw Area Youth Chorale. We are currently searching for a new Choral leader. Dance Bratz continues to increase in size with classes offered by Jo Cooley in the Mackinaw School multi-purpose room. Photography workshops have been offered to 4th grade students by Greg Teysen. In 2017 MCAAC sponsored a photography contest for Mackinaw City students in various age categories, with cash prizes.

The Mackinaw City Public School student’s preschool through 6th grade created their version of Vincent Van Gogh’s starry night in celebration of winter’s dark sky. The project Starry Starry Night North was a collaborative effort with MCAAC, Mackinaw City Area Library and Three Pines Studio in Cross Village. Other Mackinaw City Public School art events were presented by MCAAC board members included a Loon Watercolor painting project with Indian River Artist Sheree Lincoln with the help of fellow board member Gerry Lou Kania and then President Danna Marvin. Artist Joan Condino presented a wooden spoon painting class. Gerry Lou Kania and Sheree Lincoln taught the kids how to make Marionettes from recycled Materials.

We partner with Emmet County and Pellston Regional Airport to exhibit MCAAC member’s works including photography, painting and textiles. This is a display of local area artists.  We encourage you to view these artistic offerings,  located on the second floor across from the public restrooms.

We have hosted an exhibit of local member’s art during Mackinaw City’s Annual Winterfest, which takes place over the third week-end in January. Our exhibit is housed in Mackinaw Clothing and Sportswear on Central Avenue which has graciously supported this project as our exhibition venue.

MCAAC provides scholarships for education in various arts related areas.  In previous years we have provided scholarships to attend the 3-day Young Americans workshop held at Cheboygan High School. Scholarships for students have been granted for famed local watercolor artist Mary Lou Peters painting classes. In 2015 we awarded $500 to a deserving art student who attended a portfolio camp at Kendall School of Art and Design in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Scholarships are available through the Mackinaw City Public Schools to any student who will go on to college to pursue the arts. Scholarships are also available to students of Dance North, a program which includes young dancers from all over Northern Michigan and is taught by our own Jo Cooley.

If you are interested in volunteering for any of our events or wish to participate on any committee, please visit our Contact Us for more information on how to contact Joann Leal,  President of our Arts Council. Board meetings are every third Thursday of the month at 2:00pm at the Church of the Straits basement at 307 N. Huron Mackinaw City, Mi. 49701.

Our Board

Joann P Leal, President

Artistic Vocation: Joann was one of the original committee members, along with Cid and Ray Roth, Dick Moehl, Sandy Planisek, and Jeff Hingston, who was Village President at the time, that formed Art Vision 2011, which eventually became the Mackinaw City Area Arts Council. She is originally from Fort Wayne, Indiana although her family had been coming to Mackinaw City as summer residents since 1923. In 1987 she retired from the position of Executive Director of the Embassy Theatre in Fort Wayne to come North. Not long after, the Cheboygan Area Arts Council was looking for a full-time director and with her prior experience she was hired. Working as Director of the Arts Council and Manager of the historic Opera House gave her the opportunity to make good use of her experience in Financial Management, Fundraising, Booking Management, Volunteer training and supervision, and Community Relations. During her sixteen-year tenure at The Opera House, she also served on the board of the Michigan Association of Community Arts Agencies, from 1991 through 1999, the last four years as President.

Jo Cooley, Vice President

Artistic Vocation: Jo is a professional dance instructor and arts educator specializing in children’s and teen’s dance technique, musicality, creativity and self-confidence. She is trained in multiple dance styles, from ballet to tap, jazz to lyrical, modern and creative dance, all talents which she shares with her community. Her professional work includes being Past Owner-Director of the Tecumseh Dance Workshop for 25 years. She has planned, completed and accompanied theatre/dance tours with both student and adult groups to New York, Chicago, Toronto, Grand Rapids and Detroit. In addition to teaching she has choreographed productions for various community, school, and youth theatre groups including the Croswell Opera House, the Tecumseh Youth Theatre, Adrian High School, Siena Heights College, the Northland Players in Cheboygan, the Cheboygan Area Schools and the Bay View Theatre Arts.


Ann Chastain, Treasurer

Artistic Vocation: Ann recently retired from MSU Extension after 27 years practice in leadership and community engagement. She continues to assist groups with strategic planning, building consensus through focused conversations and active listening, and facilitating difficult discussions by communicating through conflict. Ann has lived in northern Michigan for the past 28 years, moving from North Carolina in search for true “quality of life”, including the ever-present blue fresh waters where she enjoys outdoor MI in all seasons.


MaryAnn Moore, Trustee

Artistic Vocation: MaryAnn Moore has a multi-faceted life.  She is a mother, retired Family and Consumer Science educator, historical re-enactor, lighthouse keeper, designer and seamstress, watercolor artist, hand crafter, geocacher, and a professional volunteer, serving on five non-profit boards working with youth and adults.  She has received many awards and scholarships for instructing students of all ages. She is a multiple grant recipient and has several published articles.  MaryAnn has made multiple presentations in specific areas of interest, most recently the “Art of Light House Keeping.”  She is difficult to find, as she has never learned to sit still!

Linda Orlow-Trustee

Sally Bell-Trustee

Aliana Knapp-Prasek-Trustee

From a young age Aliana Knapp-Prasek has had a creative spirit. Whether it be sewing, drawing, painting, writing or her current passion, weaving, she draws inspiration from nature and interactions with others. A few years after earning her degree in Fashion Merchandising she felt called to help “Mother Earth.” She moved to San Francisco to work as the Sustainability Intern at Golden Gate National Recreation Area.  Since moving to  Michigan in 2012, she has been able to bridge her love of textiles with sustainability. Aliana also teaches the MCAAC’s Children’s Summer Arts & Crafts workshops.