Newly Launched Macon Creek Center has Something for Everyone

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The new Macon Creek Center for Art, Innovation, and Sustainability is the former Boysville School ten minutes east of Clinton

By Doug Marrin, STN Reporter

Macon Creek Center for Art, Innovation, and Sustainability is a fresh approach to the worlds of business and art.

Located 15 minutes south of Saline and named for the stream that flows through the campus, Macon Creek features workspaces against the backdrop of walking paths, a pond, expansive fields, historic woods. The complex consists of 17 buildings dedicated to artisans, community members, businesses, startups, and anyone interested in innovative collaboration.

"We are creating and preserving a place dedicated to art, innovation, and sustainability where the creative process is revered and nurtured," said founder and Creative Lead Kim Tucker-Gray in a release. "By positively impacting those around us through creative and generative processes, we are simply and profoundly putting more good into the world."

Create leads for Macon Creek, Kim Tucker-Gray and John Goodell

Macon Creek is the brainchild of The Hive Project, a nonprofit that explores ways to integrate and rethink creative expression. Macon Creek’s main building, the 19,000 sq. ft. “The Hive,” houses the organization’s offices, fully furnished coworking space for nonprofits, entrepreneurs, technologists, artists, and startups. Also included is an art gallery with grand piano, central reception area, modular conference and meetings spaces, commercial kitchen, private offices, modular work pods, and a small library.

If it sounds like a lot, it is. Henry Ford originally built the Macon Creek complex as a research station. His historic home is just down the road. The property was purchased in 1947 by the Holy Cross Brothers as a boarding school for troubled boys, “Boysville.” After years of declining enrollment coupled with several disciplinary incidents, the school closed in 2015.

Tucker-Gray and The Hive Project partner, John Goodell, discovered the property in 2019 and envisioned a place to empower artists, educators, and entrepreneurs in their creativity, innovation, and collaboration. The team searched for ten years for a place to realize their vision. Nothing fit. When they came across Macon Creek, it was far more than they had initially envisioned, but that’s a good thing, says Goodell.

Workspaces can be used for art or business

“Our vision has grown into this space,” says Goodell. “Every time we give a tour here, something gets added to that vision. The appeal of this place is that we can grow into it. We don’t have to use it all at once.”

The campus consists of 215 acres and 17 buildings, including The Hive coworking & event space, several dormitories, a dining hall with a commercial kitchen, a gymnasium, recreation facility, and woodworking shop, numerous classrooms, and studio spaces, and larger structures that will be converted to rehearsal, recording and performance venues.

The door is figuratively and literally wide open when it comes to artistry. Macon Creek’s philosophy is if it is an outlet for your creativity, they can help you thrive in it—business or art.

“We’re looking to foster interdependence between disciplines, and this helps with our sustainability mission,” says Emily Olson, Marketing Director for Macon Creek. “Artists can learn from engineers, scientists, and business people and vice versa.”

Music Rehearsal in The Hive

Macon Creek’s artisan spaces include a fully furnished woodshop, a metal welding workshop, and open spaces that can be renovated for ceramics, instrument making, painting, sculpture, or other trades.

“We have individual workspaces for anyone in business or art,” says Goodell. “We have financial planners, mortgage closers, and IT people. We have a nationally recognized podcasting company. No matter who is next to who, artist or entrepreneur, their work becomes synergistic in unique ways.”

The facility offers unique opportunities in other ways, such as the two commercial kitchens. Olson recently gave a tour to a home baker who wants to create a cohort of home bakers that can make and offer their specialties to local retail outlets.

“There's a creative aspect to that,” says Olson. “But there's a business-mindedness to that and a communal element too.”

Local artist Luke Gleason with a few of his works displayed in the lobby

Sustainability is a foundational concept in Macon Creek’s endeavors. Seventy-five acres of its 215 acres are leased for sustainable crop production by local farmers in 2022.

"Ecosystems require multifaceted, mutually dependent elements, working together to create and sustain a particular environment,” says Tucker-Gray. “At Macon Creek, we have come to believe these concepts apply to the world of art and the creative process as much as they apply to the land we steward."

Macon Creek has planned its first annual summer arts camp. The camp has four 1-week intensive youth programs in orchestra, choir, theater, cabaret, handwork, and other creative arts starting in June of 2022.

For more information on a campus tour, summer camp, or how to engage and/or support Macon Creek Center for Art, Innovation, and Sustainability, visit their website at https://maconcreek.org.

Photos courtesy of Macon Creek

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