Arts for All of Northern Michigan

Inspiring All Abilities

Traverse City, MI   |



Notes from the nonprofit

At Arts for All of Northern Michigan, we believe in the transformative power of the arts to enrich lives, foster community, and cultivate well-being. Our commitment remains unwavering: to ensure that every individual, irrespective of their abilities or disabilities, can access and benefit from the arts. We invite individuals, communities, and organizations to join us as we champion art inclusivity, break down barriers to participation, and celebrate the diverse tapestry of artists and art enthusiasts in Northern Michigan. Together, we can foster a vibrant, inclusive, and enriching arts community that leaves no one behind. Whether through our adaptive art programs, inclusive events, or community outreach initiatives, we continue to forge pathways to accessibility, ensuring that all individuals can experience the joy, freedom, and empowerment that comes from engaging with the arts. Join us in this inclusive journey as we cultivate a haven where creativity knows no bounds, and every

Ruling year info


Executive Director

Val McCarthy

Main address

Po Box 4212

Traverse City, MI 49685 USA

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Formerly known as

Artists Creating Together



NTEE code info

Arts Service Activities/Organizations (A90)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Individuals with disabilities frequently encounter barriers to accessing enriching opportunities in art and culture. These barriers can be physical, social, or rooted in a lack of accessible resources and arise from a wide array of disabilities, including, but not limited to, physical, developmental, and learning disabilities. Many local communities need more trained artists and staff to facilitate inclusive and adaptive programs. Consequently, individuals with disabilities miss out on the benefits their neurotypical peers enjoy. Addressing the absence of accessible and accommodating art initiatives is critical to fostering inclusivity and ensuring everyone can engage with arts and culture meaningfully.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?


ACCESS provides a monthly art or cultural outing for teens and adults with disabilities, and their peers.

Population(s) Served
People with disabilities

Art Escapes provides in-class art and culture workshops for students in our region, ensuring that even students in self-contained classrooms receive art and culture opportunities, though not mandated by the Michigan Board of Education.

Population(s) Served
People with disabilities
Children and youth

We aim to provide everyone with a fun and educational experience through our classes, workshops, and other similar activities. With the support of our local teaching artists, cultural experts, and our beautifully designed and well-lit studio, we are committed to bringing creative and cultural experiences to the masses. Join us today and be a part of our community!

Population(s) Served

Arts for All of Northern Michigan offers an Educational Summer camp! It is designed to cater to participants of all ages, from 6 years old to adults. We’re committed to making our Summer Camp accessible and inclusive for all abilities, and our goal is to provide an exciting and engaging arts education experience for everyone participating. Join us for a summer of fun, creativity, and artistic exploration at Happy Camper Days Summer Camp. Sign up today and experience the joy of art education like never before!

Population(s) Served

Where we work

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Total number of classes offered

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

Art Escapes

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success


Context Notes

In 2020, like many organizations worldwide, we faced unprecedented challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which greatly impacted our ability to conduct classes and reach our community.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

We aim to foster empowerment and personal growth among Northern Michigan's disability community through interactive art and cultural experiences. We are committed to offering top-tier adaptive instruction through artist training and diverse programs that range from one-time experiences to long-term skill development, culminating in a platform to showcase finished works. Through these initiatives, we aspire to be a conduit for learning and a space for celebrating artistic accomplishments.

To foster inclusivity and empowerment, we have strategized a diverse range of programs targeted at different age groups and preferences:

Art Escapes: Our flagship program offers adaptive art workshops facilitated by trained, professional artists. Tailored to meet the needs of diverse learners, these workshops are hosted in a variety of educational settings, including special education and alternative education classrooms, as well as alternative learning environments, enhancing the accessibility of quality artistic instruction.

Summer Camp: Recognizing the value of immersive experiences, we have established a summer camp dedicated to fostering artistic growth and cultural appreciation. Here, participants can explore a rich tapestry of artistic mediums in a nurturing and supportive environment, building skills and lasting friendships.

Studio Classes: To further extend our educational footprint, we continue to grow in our studio classes. This initiative aims to offer more in-depth, long-term experiences, bringing together individuals with disabilities and mentors from the professional art world. These classes envision being a springboard for budding artists, providing them with the tools and platforms necessary to showcase their creativity and potentially pave a path to a professional artistic career.

ACCESS: Bridging the gap between the disability community and the vibrant world of arts and culture, ACCESS facilitates monthly community outings. These excursions are crafted to be both enriching and entertaining, offering individuals with disabilities and their families the unique opportunity to immerse themselves in our region's rich cultural tapestry.

In addition to these core strategies, we actively engage in community outreach, hosting adaptive art activities that resonate with our mission of inclusivity and personal growth through art and culture.

Through these strategies, we aspire to create a mosaic of opportunities that cater to different preferences and learning paces, bringing art and culture within reach of all individuals in our community.

Our capacity to realize our goals has substantially expanded, marked notably by the acquisition of our own studio space, which stands as a vibrant hub for our various programs.

Our leadership brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to our endeavors. The skilled guidance is augmented by educational collaborations with Northwest Michigan Educatin, along with other local educational institutions and alternative learning environments.

We have forged fruitful partnerships with over 25 local teaching artists and several renowned arts and culture organizations, such as MI Legacy Art Park, Crooked Tree Arts Center, and Clayspace TC, among others, enhancing the richness and diversity of our programs.

Financially, we are backed by a generous network of individual donors and corporate sponsors, including noteworthy names like Real Estate One. Moreover, our initiatives are bolstered by grants from organizations such as Rotary Charities, The Optimist Club, the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs, MI Humanities, and the Swiat Foundation, Traverse City Elk's Lodge #323, furnishing us with the financial stability to grow and innovate.

Looking ahead, we are working on devising new programs that promise to expand our offering and create sustainable revenue streams, thereby ensuring the longevity and continued expansion of our impact.

By leveraging these assets and relationships, we are uniquely positioned to meet our goals, progressively advancing our mission to foster inclusivity and personal growth through art and culture.

Founded as a VSA chapter in 1993, we transitioned to becoming the Grand Traverse chapter of Artists Creating Together, and eventually, in 2015, we proudly established ourselves as an independent 501(c)(3) entity known as Arts for All of Northern MI. This evolution marked our dedication to enriching our local area with adaptive art and cultural initiatives.

Central to our progress has been the robust expansion of our "Art Escapes" program. This ten year initiative, guided by professionally trained artists, seeks to extend into classrooms across a five-county region, including Antrim, Kalkaska, Leelanau, Grand Traverse, and Benzie. Through this far-reaching program, we are bringing adaptive art workshops to a wider audience, nourishing creativity and fostering inclusivity in many communities.

As we advance, we remain committed to continuously improving our educational training, nurturing the existing programs, and exploring opportunities to provide enriching experiences during the summer months, ensuring a year-round engagement with the arts for students. With a persistent focus on quality, we envision a future where our efforts create ever-widening circles of impact, promoting art and culture accessibility for all.


Arts for All of Northern Michigan

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The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.


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Connect with nonprofit leaders


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Arts for All of Northern Michigan

Board of directors
as of 09/19/2023
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Caroline Simza

Cherryland Electric

Lois Edson

Nick Edson

Caroline Simaz

Liz Clarke

Coco Stevenson

Colleen Berger

Robin Smillie

Chris Wendel

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? No
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? No
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? No
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? No
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? No

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 9/19/2023

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? Candid partnered with CHANGE Philanthropy on this demographic section.


The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
Gender identity
Disability status
Decline to state

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity


Sexual orientation

No data