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Marquette– A group of artists has formed in northern Michigan with an interest in growing the area’s creative class and drawing creative industries to the Upper Peninsula.

Evolve MQT is supported by the Marquette Chamber of Commerce, The Mining Journal reported.

The city adopted a 10-year Arts and Culture Master Plan four years ago with the goal of creating a community calendar and a community culture and creative alliance, said Tiina Harris, manager of the arts and culture division within the city’s Community Services Department.

The alliance will work to create an attractive, supportive and sustainable atmosphere for artists and businesses. It will also collaborate with the Upper Peninsula Arts and Culture Alliance on a regional level.

“We want to see people doing innovative, crazy, wild stuff, and we want to see that become the real landscape of this place, the future of this place,” said Josh MacIvor-Anderson, an author and Evolve MQT member.

Evolve runs the Marquette Creative Residency program, which gives three creative individuals private housing for three months at a retreat downtown.

“Our hope was to bring in folks to work, participate, hang out and breathe the same air and basically spread the word, basically tell their community, their social members, ‘Yeah, Marquette’s a cool place,’” MacIvor-Anderson said.

Other projects at Evolve include an ambassador program and a conversation series. Ambassadors receive stipends to attend out-of-state creative events, said Jamie Weeder, artistic director of the Upper Peninsula Shakespeare Festival. The “Seat at the Table” conversation series will bring together local creative individuals from various disciplines to talk about their successes, struggles and processes.

“We have the opportunity that not many communities have to build up our creative economy and spear its trajectory,” Weeder said.

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