E. Ray Scott – Arts Pioneer

Portrait of E Ray Scott, founder of ArtTrain, by Robert Maniscalco

With all the political posturing during the recent rail workers fiasco, I was reminded of a wonderful arts movement started by a great man of the arts, who I had the pleasure to know well. I’m talking about the inimitable E. Ray Scott, founder of the Michigan Council for the Arts, appointed by Gov. William Milliken, during his republican administration. This was back when support for the arts was a bipartisan enterprise.

“When you unlock the creative gene in a young person you have a friend of the arts for life.” E. Ray Scott

Portrait of E Ray Scott, Founder & Director of Michigan Council for the Arts, by Robert Maniscalco

E. Ray Scott fought for the arts, whether he had big budgets or small, when the legislature no longer valued the arts. With the cooperation of the railroads, and amazing public funding, ArtTrain toured the State of Michigan and eventually another 47 states. Founding the Michigan Council for the Arts in 1966 and nurturing the arts he created a statewide movement, bringing the arts to rural parts of Michigan, Ray put Michigan on the map as an arts destination. But more importantly, he enriched the lives of the people of Michigan. It is hard to quantify the value of bringing arts to the people. Doing so creates a world of possibility, and with possibility, anything is possible. Michigan became a world of possibilities, partly because one man had the vision and work ethic to make the arts accessible to everyone. Ray commissioned me to create two portraits for him over the many years I knew him. Truly a lovely man.

“There is a quality in art, which reaches across the gulf, dividing man from man and century from century.” JFK

Enjoy this beautiful tribute made in 2010, shortly after Ray left this Earth.

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