Where can you find a beatboxer sharing a stage with a belly dancer? Or a spoken word poet pontificating right before a band that plays indie surfer rock? Maybe you’re more in the mood for a hula hooper as your show opener? While these may sound like combinations you’d find back in the days of vaudeville (what, you don’t remember the vaudevillian beatboxers?) you can find these acts and others like them the last Wednesday of every month (with some exceptions) at The Loft in Downtown Lansing.
Every last Wednesday, The Loft, a popular venue for some of the state’s biggest acts, fills with creatives looking to share their craft and their passions. Through an honest, inclusive, and transparent environment, The Artist’s Umbrella provides a safe space for all artists, no matter their craft, to express their creative abilities while delivering quality entertainment to an accepting, and often interactive, audience in downtown Lansing.
It’s not unusual for a rousing cover of Rhiana’s “Umbrella” to end in spontaneous hugging, encouraged by one of the founding members and co-host, Brandon Navin. In fact, hugs are quickly becoming a tradition. This sense of community and acceptance is exactly the type of atmosphere Navin and co-founder, Jeremy Hurt had in mind when they kicked off the event in June.
Navin says hugs represent, “what we have under the umbrella. They are simple, powerful gestures of love and acceptance, and that’s what we have at our shows. We don’t compete. We meet people where they are. We build one another up and stand for our community in solidarity.”
The Artist’s Umbrella is looking to break down creative barriers by offering not an open mic (though they have added a half-hour open mic preceding the show!), but a brand new perspective on art and artists. “This city is dying for a revolution,” says Hurt. “The fact that we’ve had the success we’ve had is because the community wants it. Our continued growth shows us that this is exactly what Lansing needs.”
While the show started with an array of poets and musicians and still features them every month, “non-traditional” artists have become a staple of the event. The show has seen belly dancers, flow artists, painters (on stage), storytelling, break dancing, a melted crayon artist, and a turtle and a boa constrictor. “We are giving artists of every kind the chance to share their talents in a unique platform,” says Hurt.
“Artists tend to work in silos,” says Allison Spooner, a local author who joined Navin and Hurt on the Artist’s Umbrella team a few months ago. “The poets know the poets and the musicians know the other musicians. This event brings them all together and even encourages collaboration.”
No two events are alike and while one may feature a hip-hop artist, still others will include spoken-word poetry, storytelling, music of all varieties, comedians, magicians, and more.
Before the event and during intermission, the audience can shop local by browsing goods provided by local vendors.
They’ve also recently welcomed a fourth member to their team to help handle their steady growth. Grace Carras is a local, award-winning, a spoken-word poet from Michigan who is a long-time member of the creative community in Lansing. “I feel so incredibly lucky to be a member of this dynamic, passionate, kindhearted team,” says Grace.
A true showcase of artists of all varieties, the Artist’s Umbrella is bringing together the creative community in Lansing for entertainment, creative expression, and inclusivity in the arts!
Want to learn more and follow along on their journey? Maybe look into getting on stage? Check out their Facebook page.
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