Milford Arts Council celebrates a half century, looks to future

MILFORD — For 50 years, the Milford Arts Council has been providing opportunities to learn about the arts with its various events and programming.

To celebrate its anniversary, the MAC is having a gala from 6 to 10 p.m. on Sept. 10 in Lisman Land and Milford Harbor.

“The event will be at the new pavilion at Lisman Landing, and it is going to be four hours of phenomenal entertainment, fundraising, storytelling, music and more,” said Paige Miglio, executive director of the MAC.

The lead sponsor for the gala is TrinityPoint Wealth, and tickets are available to purchase online.

“I think it’s amazing that an arts organization, as small as we are, does such an amazing job supporting and presenting disciplines of arts to our audiences and supporting artists, musicians, thespians, writers and dancers to give them a stage and a platform to present their passion and art,” said Miglio.

The MAC started 50 years ago as an answer to a survey of residents, said Miglio.

“Knowing that there were so many artists and musicians that lived in Milford... they wanted a group that would keep an eye out and helps promote the cultural events happening all over the city,” she said.

The previously named Milford Center for the Arts went from being a group of volunteers to a staff of one, having a board of directors and changing the name to The MAC, Miglio said.

“There have been some hiccups and failures in the past, but we continue to push the arts into the forefront of this wonderful community,” she said.

At the gala, The Hot Club of Black Rock, a 1920s swing jazz group, will play the opening cocktail hour, stated Miglio.

“We will then take a short intermission and walk to another area of Lisman Landing where we will host short performance and stories from prior scholarship, grant and artist in residence programs, which focuses on the arts for tomorrow,” she said.

After returning to the pavilion, Miglio said Drop Party, a ska band, will be performing.

“We have some artisanal bites from some of the area’s best restaurants including Stonebridge, Bin100, Strega Restaurant, and Bistro Basque to name a few,” she said. “We will be served a selection of cultured cocktails from area distilleries and brew houses.”

There will also be a silent auction with original artwork by Marsh Made Art, who will also bring his painted truck for photo-ops.

The 50-year celebration is also a way for the MAC to fundraise and continue to expand and present all of its programs, noted Miglio.

“We want to assure our audiences that we will not have to raise ticket prices and keep the arts accessible to everyone,” she said. “We will be fundraising for the MAC itself, for its endowment and its future scholarship and grant programs.”

Throughout its 50 years, the MAC has had a partnership with other organizations throughout Milford, Miglio noted.

“The MAC has been a part of my life for 25 years,” said Makayla Silva, executive director of Downtown Milford Business Association. “Growing up I spent a large part of my childhood at the MAC as my mom worked there through the 90s and into the early 2000s. Now, more than two decades later, I serve on the Board of Directors for the organization, and I am truly honored to do so.

“The MAC plays a pivotal role in keeping the art front of mind in our community, ensuring that there’s a seat at every table and a voice in every conversation,” Silva added. “The MAC weaves an integral thread throughout community fabric.”

“The MAC has been a great city partner for 50 years now. We have always worked great together because they are part of our community and what the town has to offer,” said Mayor Ben Blake.

Looking back, Miglio said one of the programs she would like to bring back from the MAC’s early programming is a program called Art in the Park.

“There was a group of teaching artists that organized school programs and created an art camp in Eisenhower Park that ran for several years in the summers,” said Miglio.

Looking to the future, Miglio said they are always striving to develop their family programming and audience.

“A big dream of mine is to develop a family-friendly concert series that will be specifically for introducing kids to different genres of music,” she said. “It’s been a big dream of ours to offer a regular curriculum of classes and workshops to adults and children. It’s also a dream of ours as well to utilize that space in Eisenhower Park for new programming in the warmer months.”