Person of Interest: Omari Rush

. March 5, 2018.
POI---Omari-Rush

Occupation: Executive Director at Culture Source (an alliance for nonprofit arts and cultural organizations) Chairman of Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs, and arts education champion.

You were just appointed to lead the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs. Congratulations! What are your goals for the future of Michigan Arts?
Our state arts council has been highly effective and highly impactful in supporting arts and cultural projects, initiatives, and organizations throughout the state. In the last fiscal year, the council made 1,068 grant awards that reached nearly every Michigan county, totaling about $9.7M. With those grants, we’ve funded arts venue facility improvements and brought artists into classrooms to work directly with students, just to name a few. I want to help sustain and grow those impacts. I also would like to see a broadened awareness of the ways arts and culture can drive economic vitality and prosperity in our state, along with more investment in arts and culture by the private sector.

How did you get your start with arts and programming?
I’ve always liked organizing people and events, and while I was a clarinet performance major at Florida State University, I organized a chamber music society, planned recitals, and represented music students on university boards. I realized these affinities could be applied elegantly to a professional career when I discovered the University Musical Society (UMS). I had come to Ann Arbor in Fall 2003 to pursue a master’s degree in clarinet performance at University of Michigan, and my graduate school internship at UMS created a solid foundation for my future pursuits in arts and education.

Do you still play the clarinet?
I identify now as a retired clarinetist. The tradeoff for immersing myself in administrative work was that I had less time to practice my technical skills. Though I don’t actively perform, I take lots of inspiration from the artists and art I’m surrounded by, and one day I may start playing again. My clarinet is just tucked under my bed.

You also are the founder of the local event called Fox Trot (or as it is informally known, “How to be a Grown-Ass Man”). Can you tell us a little more about this unique social club?
The Fox Trot was started to highlight local businesses, teach the “gentlemanly arts” to guys, and network fun and fascinating people with each other. The format of the Fox Trot was a shop and pub crawl of 30 guys ages 21+. Over six hours of walking around downtown Ann Arbor, we stopped in pre-determined establishments to learn about classic cocktails, the art of shaving, how to tie a bowtie, the differences in wines and cheeses, and the proper technique for lighting and smoking cigars. People formed friendships, businesses gained new customers, and I hope Ann Arbor felt a bit more lively, cool, and interesting. Unfortunately, I don’t have any plans to restart the crawls. Keeping 30 guys moving and on task was a lot of work!

What’s one item on your “Bucket List?”
This year I would like to go paddle-boarding down the Huron River, run the Dexter Ann Arbor half-marathon, learn to golf, and be able to do 20 proper pull-ups (I can only do 7).

You are quite the outdoorsman! Where is your favorite green space in Ann Arbor?
With some encouragement from the getDowntown Program, I’ve spent more time on my commuter bicycle in the last year, and I particularly enjoy riding and taking breaks along the Border-to-Border trail. I also like talking to my dad on the phone while walking around Wheeler Park.

Trending

Domino’s Farms Aids Ann Arbor’s Need for Office Space

Domino’s Pizza and Arbor Research are both launching new office building projects at Domino’s Farms. Domino’s Pizza is creating a 33,000-square-foot building on the north side of Domino’s Farms, expanding to their current space. Arbor Research is creating a new 49,500-square-foot headquarters building on the east side of Domino’s Farms. Both buildings should be completed

A Physician’s Perspective on Legalized Cannabis

On Tuesday, November 6th, Michigan became the 10th state to legalize cannabis for recreational use. Ten years ago, we had become the 13th state to legalize Cannabis for medical use. I voted for the medical cannabis law years ago because, in my view, cannabis is not a dangerous product, and too many people were being imprisoned for its use. At that time, however, I did not subscribe to the argument that there were legitimate medical uses for cannabis. How things have changed.

Tiny Expo at Ann Arbor District Library—A Curated Holiday Gift Fair with Flair

The Tiny Expo is a gem of an indie arts and crafts fair for vendors with original and unexpected products that make wonderful gifts but may not be an obvious fit for Ann Arbor’s mainstream art fairs. Shoppers who crave artistic, high quality products with diverse price points will find a rich variety of unique, handmade products to choose from.

New Tenants in Downtown Ypsilanti

Formerly long-vacant buildings in Downtown Ypsilanti are experiencing revitalization as small businesses and nonprofits are rapidly filling up spaces. Michigan Advocacy Program (MAP), a nonprofit organization that, “provides access to the justice systems for those that need it most,” recently purchased the Smith Furniture building at 15 S Washington Street which became their headquarters. Decode