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New KIA Director Makes an Artful Transition

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Belinda Tate KIA

Five months after taking over as the Executive Director of the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts (KIA), Belinda Tate is still discovering all that Kalamazoo has to offer.

"Kalamazoo is a very active community," Tate said. "People are out and about. Coming from the South, the cold weather can be intimidating, so it's great to see people interacting and enjoying themselves despite the weather."

Tate previously lived in Winton-Salem, North Carolina, where she served as Director of Winston-Salem University's Diggs Gallery for 15 years.

Recruited to join the KIA, Tate said she immediately felt something special within the community.

"There is a priority and interest in supporting the arts here," she said. "The Kalamazoo Promise was also attractive because of the priorities it elevates.

"The KIA itself is an incredibly beautiful organization. I really wanted to be a part of its future."

Looking toward the future and honoring the past is a sentiment that has been permeating the KIA itself, which celebrated its 90th anniversary in 2014.

"We want you to think about the KIA every time your life is in transition," Tate said speaking of the organization's Kirk Newman Art School. "We hope individuals can allow the school to mark transitions in their lives by connecting with creativity."

For example, someone moving to town, getting married, or grieving a loss could use one of the schools more than 300 offerings to work through emotions and incorporate art in the process, Tate said, and walk away with a new skill or piece of art to symbolize their growth.

Although she has yet to commemorate her move to Kalamazoo with a KIA course, Tate said she is considering a jewelry making course.

"I'm looking forward to my own time in the school to explore my own artistic nature," she said.

Living in a condo on the mall, Tate has explored downtown Kalamazoo by necessity and for enjoyment.

"I love the vibrancy of downtown, especially Bronson Park," Tate said. "The spirit of Bronson Park is so Kalamazoo."

When asked what she loves most about Kalamazoo, Tate responded, "The art, of course!"

"We have really great collections and exhibitions slated here," she said.

"We get to take people around the world within the context of our facility. That is a significant way for us to connect with people on the level of international experiences.

"As an organization we are finding new ways to connect and engage with the community," Tate said, citing black and women's history month collections slated for display in February and March, respectively.

"We are really looking forward to those two months of programming," she said.

Tate said her position at the KIA makes it easy for her to connect on a personal level as well.

"I have it easy because I connect with a lot of people through the KIA," Tate said. "Kalamazoo is so unique in that people are really open and friendly."

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