EAST LANSING, Michigan – The Michigan Traditional Arts Program at Michigan State University announced that the musician Ara Topouzian is among the Michigan Heritage Awards 2022 annual statewide program honorees recognizing artists, practitioners, and community organizers working in Michigan’s folk and traditional arts and everyday culture.
“I want to thank Michigan State University and the Michigan Traditional Arts Program for honoring me with this award,” Topouzian, a Bloomfield Hills resident in Oakland County, said in a written statement to The Weekly. . “I am very proud to be Armenian and to be part of a vibrant artistic community in Michigan. A sincere thank you to everyone who has supported my musical achievements over the years and also contributed to this nomination!
Topouzian, who plays the kanun (an ancient harp instrument), has been recognized for his achievements in performing traditional Armenian music.
The Michigan Heritage Award (MHA) is the state’s highest honor to honor individuals and groups who have dedicated themselves to the teaching, preservation, presentation and growth of their traditional art form. This includes family, cultural, ethnic, religious, professional and regional traditions.
“The Michigan Heritage Awards are modeled on the National Heritage Scholarships awarded by the National Endowment for the Arts. Similar programs exist in most states, serving to reflect and celebrate the diversity of cultural expressions found in the United States. Since 1985, more than 130 Michigan artists and cultural organizations have received Michigan Heritage Awards,” says Micah Ling, public programs coordinator for the Michigan Traditional Arts Program.
Other winners include:
– Alfred Bruce Bradley of Flint, Genesee County for community leadership in tap dancing
– Drs. William (1933-2017) and Yvonne Lockwood of Chelsea (Washtenaw County) for documenting, preserving, and publishing the traditional art, folk life, and culture of Michigan
– Ukrainian Bandurist Chorus of the Detroit Metro Area (Wayne County), for community organizing, support and promotion of Ukrainian bandura music
The winners were selected after a review of the entries by an independent panel of traditional arts scholars and practitioners.
“We receive nominations both from groups with whom we have existing relationships, such as former participants of our apprenticeship program or field documentation projects, and from new relationships,” Ling noted, “ It’s always exciting to see which Michiganders and traditions will be nominated and chosen.”
Michigan’s Traditional Arts Program Director, Marsha MacDowell, agrees that “the program raises public awareness of the breadth and depth of traditional arts and culture in the state.”
A virtual celebration will take place this summer. An in-person celebration will be announced at a later date.
The Michigan Traditional Arts Program is a statewide program “aimed at advancing cross-cultural understanding and equity in a diverse society through the documentation, preservation, and presentation of traditional arts, popular life and daily culture of Michigan”. MTAP is headquartered at MSU residential college in Arts and Humanities and is supported by MATRIX: Center for Digital and Social Humanities SciencesMSU Office of Academic Outreach and Engagementand the Michigan State University Museum.