Olney Central College Dean of Instruction Michael Conn has been appointed by Gov. J.B. Pritzker to serve a four-year term on the Illinois Arts Council.
“I am happy to be involved in the administration of the arts community on a larger, statewide scale,” Conn said. “It is an interesting opportunity and it is good to have representation from our area. I hope to provide a voice for Southern Illinois to the current state of arts in Illinois and add value to this long-standing council.”
The Illinois Arts Council promotes artistic endeavors throughout the state while providing financial and technical assistance to artists, art organizations and community organizations with arts programming.
“All arts funding in Illinois funnels through the council,” Conn added.
The group is comprised of 21 private citizens selected for their demonstrated commitment to the arts. All candidates participate in a three-person interview process and undergo a gubernatorial review before their appointments.
Members meet three times a year to develop the state’s public arts policy, fostering quality, culturally diverse programs and approving grant expenditures. Business is typically conducted at the Thompson Center in Chicago, but the pandemic has forced meetings to be held virtually.
Recently the council has been disseminating Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funds to assist the hard-hit arts community. Those benefitting include artists who have been unemployed due to the pandemic.
Conn brings a wide range of experience to the council as both an artist and educator. He earned a bachelor’s degree in education from Grand Valley State University with a certification in elementary and art education. He has a master’s degree in art and humanities from New York University and holds an Ed.D. in Learning Design and Leadership from the University of Illinois.
Conn joined OCC as an art instructor in 2008 and has served as Dean of Instruction since June 2017.