Residents of Sault Ste. Marie, MI, and the surrounding region will be able to experience local fine art and artifact collections – and create their own masterpieces – thanks to a $10,000 Challenge America grant awarded to the Sault Area Arts Council from the National Endowment for the Arts.

The Challenge America program offers support to small organizations for projects that extend the reach of the arts to underserved groups and communities. These grants further the NEA’s mission to help everyone live more artful lives, based on the belief that the arts contribute to individual well-being, the well-being of communities, and to local economies.

With this funding, the Sault Area Arts Council will present The Soo Collects: Art for All, a month-long celebration of local tribal and nontribal fine arts and crafts preserved and collected over the centuries. Throughout the month of September 2024, residents will enjoy exhibits, lectures, discussions, classes, and children’s activities hosted at various locations in Sault Ste. Marie. Each event will be free of charge.

Highlights will include a panel discussion with local indigenous knowledge bearers and visiting art scholar, Dr. Adriana Greci Green (University of Virginia); a public art scavenger hunt; a series of lectures by local art historian, Dr. Charles Colbert (Harvard); adult and children art classes; an indigenous basketry demonstration and discussion; and much more. A full schedule of events will be available at soon.

“Just because we are not in a metropolitan center with ready access to museums with high quality art and sculpture doesn’t mean we cannot appreciate the fine art that has been collected in our area over the years,” said Agatha Colbert, Chair of the Sault Area Arts Council Board of Directors.

“I am especially gratified that this grant has provided the opportunity for a first time ever formal collaboration among six of our art and cultural organizations. We are teaming up with the Chippewa County Historical Society, the River of History Museum, LSSU, the Bayliss Public Library and the Soo Locks Children’s Museum to offer this multi-venue month-long experience that will highlight public, private, and individual art collections,” said Colbert.

The mission of the Sault Area Arts Council is to encourage all people to lead more artful lives through opportunities to learn about, create, and market the visual arts. Its purpose is to sponsor and encourage cultural and educational activities in Sault Ste. Marie and surrounding areas, sponsor cooperative planning, research, fund raising and educational programs, and undertake such other services deemed necessary to encourage participation in and appreciation of the arts by all citizens in the area.

About the Sault Area Arts Center

The Sault Area Art Center, owned and operated by the Sault Area Arts Council (SAAC), a non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization, was incorporated in 1969. It is under the direction of, and staffed by, volunteer board members. Currently located in the Alberta House, it contains the SAAC office, the Olive M. Craig Gallery, and a juried shop which displays and sells one-of-a-kind paintings and crafts by local artists.

Visit for more information and/or to donate.