Barbara Kratchman has spent decades ensuring the survival and funding of the arts throughout Michigan. The Bloomfield Hills resident was introduced to culture through her parents, but didn't immediately appreciate the impact it would ultimately have on her life. She ended up becoming a trailblazer in the art community.
"My mother and father took us to art galleries, but I took it for granted and never thought much about it," she said. "I loved theater, dance and literature, but I was an uninvolved consumer."
Through an involvement with politics, Kratchman found herself immersed in the arts community, working as the Executive Director of the Michigan Council for the Arts under former Gov. James Blanchard.
"That's where I cut my teeth, and I became very involved in cultural organizations and arts around the state. I found the place where I belonged," she said. "I could combine my interest in the arts and politics."
After a change in administrations, Kratchman realized there was a strong demand for funding for the arts, and she founded ArtServe, an advocacy organization for cultural statewide growth.
"As meager as funding is, if it weren't for ArtServe, there would be zero arts funding, and I'm very proud of that," she said. "We raised awareness of the importance of arts around the state and became a real force in Lansing."
While Kratchman herself is not an artist, she believes that the power of art can eradicate racial divides and bring people together.
"It has helped me look at things in a different way. People do not realize that the arts are all around us," she said. "If we were not here to nurture creativity, the world wouldn't be what it is today."
Though Kratchman has retired from ArtServe, she continues to serve the community by sitting on the Detroit Public TV and the DIA's Friends of Modern and Contemporary Art boards. She remains a pillar in the art community and her dedication to culture has not gone unnoticed. She recently judged the Grand Rapids-based ArtPrize, with artists submitting from around the world, which is exhibiting through October 10 throughout Grand Rapids.
Recently acknowledged with a Special Lifetime Achievement Award by Birmingham Bloomfield Art Center, the Community House, and the Cultural Council of Birmingham/Bloomfield , Kratchman will also receive an award this fall from the Jewish Ensemble Theater (JET).
"I'm not always so comfortable being in the spotlight, but it's gratifying to know that there are other people who support what's important to me," she said....continued on page 2