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Miah for Bloomington City Council District 4

Meet Miah Michaelsen

I’m a Democrat, an Arkansas native and a proud liberal arts grad with a major in theatre. I met my husband and partner of 34+ years, Jonathan, in a production of Agatha Christie’s Black Coffee at the Arkansas Repertory Theatre.

We’ve called Bloomington home for more than 14 years. Both of our sons went through MCCSC, and we spent many an hour on the bleachers at Bloomington South cheering on the swim team and in the auditorium cheering on Sounds of South. They’re mostly grown now: our oldest, Brendan, lives in Raleigh, NC with his wife Catherina Gomes; and our youngest, Wyeth, is a freshman at Indiana University. They may be out of the house now, but they are reliably back home for uniquely Bloomington traditions like the Canopy of Lights and the Fourth Street Festival.

Want to know why I’m running for Bloomington City Council District 4? Read about it here.

In my time in Bloomington, I’ve had the opportunity to work closely with many of Bloomington’s distinct constituencies: arts and cultural organizations and artists; economic development partners; social service agencies; downtown businesses and advocates and neighborhood associations. I started my career in Bloomington at the Bloomington Area Arts Council and then in 2007, I was recruited by then Mayor Mark Kruzan to join the team at the City of Bloomington as the first Assistant Economic Development Director for the Arts. In my eight years there, I was responsible for managing and programming the Bloomington Entertainment and Arts District and leading all city efforts related to arts and economic development and public art.

In my time at the City I had the opportunity to meet and support the work of hundreds of artists, arts organizations and other creative folks that make Bloomington the amazing place that it is. In 2015, I became the Deputy Director of the Indiana Arts Commission. In that capacity I work on day-to-day operations of the State of Indiana’s arts agency, which include contracts and grants administration, budget and financial management, research, outcomes assessment, community development and strategic planning. I currently serve on the Community Advisory Board for WFIU Public Radio and the advisory board for the Ivy Tech John Waldron Arts Center. I’m a member of the Democratic Women’s Caucus and attend Trinity Episcopal.

Like to see my full resume? It’s here.

Why I’m Running for Bloomington City Council District 4

Bloomington is where I make my home, and where I’ve honed my skills as a “connector” (to borrow from Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point), facilitating successful cross-sector community collaborations and joining people together with other people, ideas and resources to realize an aspiration or overcome a barrier. I want to bring those connecting skills to the City Council. We need to work together to meet the challenges and opportunities in front of us. I have 14+ years of experience working in the community and a collaborative style that combines listening, persistence and a sense of humor, grounded in respect for those I’m working with.

As your District 4 representative, I pledge to look at plans, proposals, petitions, legislation and budgets together with you and through the lens of how each would strengthen District 4 and the city at large. Does it support economic and urban mobility? If so, how? Does it enhance District 4 and Bloomington at large? If so, how? I’m also committed to mitigating the impacts of previous actions and decisions to keep District 4 a distinct “place” and ensure that its neighborhoods, parks, gardens, schools and businesses continue to be healthy and vibrant. I’ll host constituent conversations, be accessible and provide numerous channels for us to stay engaged together.

See my What I’ll Do section on specific actions I’ll take if elected to represent you in District 4.

Miah Meeting with Major Mark Kruzan

As a former employee of the City of Bloomington as well as a liaison to numerous City boards and committees during that time, I understand what it is like to carry out administrative and legislative policies and directives, and I want those folks to feel supported in what they do, and that we’ve made space for innovation to flow upward and outward.

Miah Speaking at an Event

If you happen to check out the 2008 BEAD Strategic Plan, you’ll see that I’ve borrowed BEAD’s first core value and made it my first campaign priority. I wrote all three of those values for BEAD (as well as the entire plan) in 2008 with downtown in mind, but I believe it’s applicable to the entire city and is as worthy a priority as it was 11 years ago.

Things I'm Proud Of

While at the City of Bloomington

  • Managed the Bloomington Entertainment and Arts District – the first state certified cultural district in the State of Indiana. Led resource development, programming and marketing for the district. Wrote BEAD’s first Strategic Plan with the BEAD Steering Committee.
  • Initiated and facilitated public art programs and installations throughout the City.
  • Wrote the City of Bloomington’s Public Art Master Plan with the Bloomington Arts Commission.
  • Developed the BUEA Zone Arts Grant Program. This program, a partnership between the BUEA and BEAD supports selected arts-focused projects located within the boundaries of the Bloomington Urban Enterprise Zone. Since 2012, the program has supported dozens of arts and cultural initiatives that provide direct benefit to Urban Enterprise Zone residents and businesses.
  • Supported small business development in downtown, working to match entrepreneurs to spaces, opportunities, and resources.
  • Worked to expand capacity of arts organizations and arts events through strategic partnerships, resource identification, workshops and trainings and support.
  • Served as team lead in facilitating the transfer of the Rogers Street Firehouse from the City of Bloomington to the Lotus Education and Arts Foundation as a permanent home and a new community arts programming opportunity for the organization and the Rogers and 4th Street corridor.
  • Served as team member in the successful transition of the John Waldron Arts Center from the Bloomington Area Arts Council to the City of Bloomington to Ivy Tech Community College where it was renamed the Ivy Tech John Waldron Arts Center.
  • Won a national Arts Destination Marketing Award (jointly with Visit Bloomington) in 2013 for our work to market Bloomington as an arts destination and to support arts and cultural event providers.
  • Served as the street and sidewalk closure liaison to the Board of Public Works. Working together with public safety, engineering and public works staff, we facilitated the dozens of annual festivals, outdoor concerts, street dances, runs, walks, sidewalk sales, and lemonade stands that make Bloomington special.

While at the Indiana Arts Commission

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Together we can do more.