Troy Chamber of Commerce president named to arts council

By: Terry Oparka | Troy Times | Published January 9, 2018




TROY — Gov. Rick Snyder recently announced the appointment of Ara Topouzian, president and CEO of the Troy Chamber of Commerce, to the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs.

In a prepared statement, Snyder stated: “The 15-member council, housed in the Michigan Economic Development Corp., helps create an environment of artistic, creative and cultural activity to support Michigan’s quality of life and economic vitality.” 

Topouzian previously served as the economic development director for the city of Novi. Topouzian, an Armenian-American, has performed his kanun, a 76-string lap harp, at music festivals and venues across the United States. 

He was awarded a 2012 Kresge Arts in Detroit artist fellowship for his mastery of the harp, an unrestricted $25,000 competitive fellowship that aims “to advance the artistic careers of Detroit-area artists living and working in the tri-county area, as well as elevate the profile of the area’s artistic community,” according to the Kresge Foundation. 

He was also awarded a $12,000 Knight Arts Challenge Grant from the James L. Knight Foundation to produce a one-hour film, “Guardians of Music: A History of Armenian Music in Detroit.” It aired on Detroit Public Television.

Topouzian holds a bachelor’s degree in communication from Wayne State University and serves as a board member of Creative Many Michigan, a statewide organization. According to its website, the organization “develops creative people, creative places and the creative economy for a competitive Michigan through research, advocacy, professional practice and communications.”

“This group of individuals has a wide range of experience that I believe is well-suited to help support the arts and cultural activities in Michigan,” Snyder said in a press release about all the appointments for the council. 

Members will serve three-year terms expiring Sept. 1, 2020. 

“As someone interested in arts and culture, I wanted to give back and help the state council raise awareness and visibility of arts and culture in the state,” Topouzian said.

He said he sees the aim of the commission as creating awareness and increasing visibility for the different programs in arts and culture. 

Topouzian added that arts and cultural initiatives generate billions of dollars and are sometimes overlooked. It’s an area in which he hopes to help.

“It’s really in my wheelhouse,” Topouzian said. “I’m excited.”