As president of the Cultural Council of Birmingham Bloomfield, Cindy G. Cheaves has helped immerse the community in the arts for the last 10 years. Although she initially moved to Bloomfield Township 20 years ago to start Maplewood Professional Services, an organization geared toward assisting businesses with their everyday needs, she quickly realized the influence art has on the sophisticated Birmingham and Bloomfield communities.
"Art may not be something that people consciously think about, but if it's not there, they notice it's missing," said Cheaves. "And, I think for anyone starting a business in Birmingham, volunteering and getting involved in an organization like the Cultural Council is a great way to meet people. For me, it gives me a great connection to the community." Cheaves' tenure as president, beginning in 1999, was fortuitous for her.
"I went to a meeting to volunteer to work at the Family New Year's Blast (formerly First Night) event, and they were in transition and needed someone to be the director of the event," said Cheaves. "I volunteered for that position. Eventually Harriet Alpern and Wally Klein recruited me to the Cultural Council." Alpern and Klein were originating members of the Cultural Council, according to Cheaves.
As president of the council, Cheaves is involved in initiating funding opportunities for CityScapes, the Cultural Arts Awards, and the Family New Years Blast, a family-centered New Year's Eve celebration in and around Birmingham. The ability for these programs to come to fruition is made possible only through the support of the community, Cheaves pointed out.
"For the Family New Year's Blast, Maggie Allesee has sponsored it every year. Without her help, we wouldn't be able to do it," she said. "We also had an individual who purchased a sculpture and donated it to CityScapes. We're always looking for individuals and businesses to purchase (CityScapes art) so the pieces can remain where they're at." Cheaves is pictured in Birmingham with a steel, mixed media sculpture entitled "Journey Home" by Dennis Oppenheim. The piece is a temporary installation, but Cheaves hopes it will be purchased and donated to the city so that it can remain as a permanent fixture.
As a business owner and president of the Cultural Council, Cheaves has little spare time, but recently acquired a new skill to apply to her Birmingham business.
"I started studying handwriting analysis," said Cheaves. "I've found it a valuable asset for businesses to use, and will be teaching it at my business in Birmingham."...continued on page 2