From the 2018 Visitors Guide & Community Profile created and produced by Harbor House Publishers, Inc.
Ten years ago, Crystal Pepperdine, CTA, attended the first Detroit Urban Crafts Fair. She was immediately drawn to the contemporary stale of the crafts.
"The aesthetic of handmade goods has changed a lot in the past 15 years," Pepperdine says. "Traditionally, craft fairs featured more of a 'country' style and have been held at parks, churches and schools. A younger generation has put a new twist on traditional crafts."
Craft show venues have changed over the years, now being held at breweries, historic theaters and other unique locations.
Inspired by what she saw in Detroit, Pepperdine organized a similar event for urban crafters back home in Flint. A decade later, her brainchild - Flint Handmade - organizes up to three events a week in Flint & Genesee, the most popular of which is the Holiday Craft Market. This annual market draws 1,000 shoppers looking for unique handmade holiday gifts. Seasonal coloring parties at Tenacity Brewing and almost-monthly Craft Supply Swaps throughout the County are also popular, according to Pepperdine.
Flint handmade organizes educational workshops and events such as the Art & Craft Street, ArtWalk, Yarn Brigade, Radical Women Quilt, Book Lovers' Craft Fair and Altered Art, to name a few. The nonprofit benefits the local economy through these events and provides gathering spaces for social crafting and creative expression.
"Flint Handmade provides an easily accessible entry point in the artistic and cultural community in Genesee County," says Pepperdine. "We believe that creative expression is an essential aspect of our humanity, so everyone can participate in our events in some way regardless of skill level."
Flint Handmade is just one of many cultural organizations at work in the region. Flint & Genesee offers a dazzling array of experiences in the arts, sciences and humanities with live performances, exhibits, classes and more. Leading the way, the Flint Cultural Center is a unique educational and entertainment resource. The center is home to eight nationally recognized institutions:
- Applewood Estate - Flint family home of Charles Stewart Mott, one of the founding partners of General Motors
- Buick Gallery & Research Center - An annex gallery of the Sloan Museum featuring rotating exhibits of classic and concept cars
- Flint Institute of Arts - The second-largest art museum in Michigan and one of the largest art schools in the country
- Flint Institute of Music - The largest community school of the arts in the state and home to the Flint Symphony Orchestra and Flint School of Performing Arts
- Flint Youth Theatre - Nationally recognized for intergenerational programming, professional theatrical productions and drama instruction for area youth
- Longway Planetarium - The largest planetarium in Michigan
- Sloan Museum and Buick Gallery - Showcases regional history and hands-on science exhibits
- The Whiting - A 2,043-seat professional performing arts venue which attracts the best regional, national and international talent
Other cultural cornerstones in the region include the Flint Public Library, established in 1851. The library las a diverse collection of resources, including an extensive Michigan college and the second-largest genealogical collection in the state.
The Flint Children's Museum inspires children through exploration and hands-on play. Located on the campus of Kettering University, the museum features exhibits like How Things Work, Sproutside, Transportation Alley and Tot Spot.
Arts organizations across the city are working to revitalize Flint through cultural opportunities and education. The Greater Flint Arts Council organizes the Cool City Art Auction, Second Friday ArtWalk, Flint Jazz Festival, Flint Festival of Quilts, exhibits and more.
The Flint Public Art Project organizes workshops, temporary art installations around the city and public events, including Neighborhood Art Parades which bring together residents, artists and performers for monthly gatherings. The group also oversees two permanent projects - Spencer's Art House and Stone Street Residency - as well as the Free City Public Art Festival, which temporarily reclaims a former manufacturing site along the Flint River.
The cultural institutions of Flint & Genesee are the bedrock of the community - bringing people together through education, events and artful expression. This infusion of creative energy is drawing thousands of visitors to the region and inspiring artisans and entrepreneurs to invest in Flint & Genesee.
Experience the arts
Enjoy world-class performances at the University of Michigan-Flint's Department of Theatre and Dance, explore the historical sites like the Stockton Center at Spring Grove and the Whaley Historic House or be inspired by hands-on exhibits at the Sloan Museum. Galleries, museums, symphonies, concerts, theaters and more offer a rich variety of events and programming throughout the region.
For details on cultural events through the year, see the Calendar of Events.