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Arts & Culture

In recent years, community members have worked together to position the Hutchinson-Reno County Arts and Humanities Council (HRAH) and the Heartland Arts and Culture Collective to support the development of arts and culture in Reno County. Hutch Rec supports the HRAH Council and the Heartland Collective in their work to promote healthy living and community spirit in our home in the heartland. 

Learn more about the history of arts and humanities in Hutchinson below. 

Hutchinson Reno County Arts & Humanities Council (HRAH)

HRAH Council

  • Jim French, Reno County appointee

    Jim French

    Jim French, a fifth-generation farmer and rancher, grew up in Reno County, Kansas. He farms land homesteaded by his great-great grandparents in 1871. He and his wife, Lisa, took over management of the operation in 1979 after completing advanced degrees at Wichita State University, and the University of Nebraska. Their operation has received national and regional recognition and awards for conservation and innovation. From 1998 to 2005, French was a communications and policy specialist with the Kansas Rural Center. In 2005 until 2016, heworked as the Senior Agriculture Advocacy Adviser to Oxfam America. Since that time, he has written on regenerative agriculture, and consulted with the Center for Rural Affairs on federal agriculture policy.

    Along with management of the farm and ranch, French has been active in the arts and humanities. He has published monthly columns in the Reno County New Times in the 90s, He served on boards of the Reno County Historical Association, and  the Hutchinson-Reno County Arts and Humanities Council, and was a member of the Prairie Writers Group. Since 1980, he has directed the choir at Partridge Community Church UCC. 

    The Frenches have two children, Ruth Anne and Andrew, and one grandchild, Otis. They and their families live in the Kansas City area. Jim and Lisa French still live on the family farm where they continue to take care of the land and manage a grass and forage-based livestock operation.

  • Kelbe McGill, City of Hutchinson appointee

    Kelbe McGill

    Born in rural Kansas, Kelbe Mcgill was raised on steak & potatoes, Friday night lights, family games of “Kick the Can”, riding horses, the kind of quality education received from a 1A school, and 90s music.  She is a mother of two, the wife of her best friend, and traveling enthusiast.  Her spontaneous, fun loving, people-centered personality is a supplement to her appreciation for intellect and the value of learning.  Holding degrees in Social Work & Psychology she is a Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW), Licensed Master Addiction Counselor (LMAC), and Autism Specialist (AS). Her professional career as a Behavior Intervention Consultant & business partner to her husband’s company has kept her working both inside and outside the state of Kansas for the last decade.

    Kelbe has served as an active member to various committees and councils, volunteers, and has a wide-range of applied knowledge. The passion she holds for Arts & Humanities has been cultivated from her innate personality traits, her advocacy for mental health, the intrigue of diverse cultural differences, acceptance of differing perspectives, and the sheer appreciation for talented individuals who are able to expressively communicate through artistic pathways.  Her future aspirations are to grow old, garden while listening to music, laugh, have widespread international travel with her family, continue to contribute in a meaningful way to the community to which she belongs, and live everyday creating the things she wishes existed.

  • Michelle Waln, Reno County appointee

    Michelle Waln

    A native Nebraskan, Michelle Waln has lived in Hutchinson since 1999. She grew up with a fondness of all sorts of artistic endeavors but held a deep love of vocal and instrumental music, nurtured by her grandmother. Music continues to be a big influence in Michelle’s life. She serves as music director at Grace Episcopal Church and dabbles in local musical theatre productions. Her favorite roles have been Mrs. Potts in Family Community Theatre’s production of Beauty and the Beast and Miss Shingle in Stage 9’s production of A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder. She also supports her children’s musical endeavors and is a big supporter of the Buhler High School Band.

    Michelle has worked at Heartland Credit Union for 22 years and currently serves as Vice President of Culture, where she leads the Human Resources, Education, Marketing, and Financial Literacy areas. Her favorite parts of her job are the people, both employees and members, and striving to make lives better in our community. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Communication Arts with emphasis in Advertising, Public Relations, and Communications Management from Hastings College in Nebraska. In addition to serving on the Hutchinson/Reno County Arts and Humanities Council, Michelle’s community involvement includes serving as a board member for the Hutchinson Ulster Project, being a member of the Central Kansas Chapter of the Society for Human Resource Management, serving as elementary youth group leader at Grace Episcopal Church, and has volunteered for the Boys and Girls Club, Big Brothers Big Sisters, and Reno County United Way. Recently, Michelle was named to the Hutchinson Community Foundation Board of Directors.

  • Emily Galliart, City of Hutchinson appointee

    Em Galliart

    Em is a Hutchinson native and community lover. She graduated in 2013 from Kansas State University with a bachelor’s degree in interior design. Upon graduation, she spent some time living and working in Kansas City. In 2016, Em moved back to her hometown to pursue a position with Salt Creek Interior Design. She quickly became involved in the Young Professionals of Reno County. This involvement led her to other civic engagement opportunities, such as the Arts and Humanities Council. Art has always been an important part of her life, and joining the council was a way to see arts and humanities continue to thrive in her area. She recently started her own design firm, Lark Design Group, and is here to stay! When she is not designing, she is working on her own home remodel with her boyfriend, Logan. Em has a Great Pyrenees, named Maxwell, and a Golden Retriever, named Sadie. There is a good chance you have seen them walking down main street during Third Thursday’s. It is one of their favorite days of the month! Em is excited to be living, working, and involved in her hometown and looks forward to what the future holds for the community.

  • Lauren Taylor, City of Hutchinson appointee

    Lauren Taylor 

    Lauren Taylor is a Wichita, Kansas native who found a new home in Hutchinson over the last 6 years and has been a full time resident for the last 3. She was born singing, steeped in a wide range of musical traditions, and grew up heavily involved in the arts from choir to band, orchestra to musical theater and dance. Music binds her being together as much as she believes it binds the community together. She studied music through college, including a study abroad in Italy through WSU where she studied opera, and holds a degree in literature from the University of Kansas. If you walk through Hyde park you will probably find her serenading her cat, Buddy, on her porch with folk songs on her ukulele. She is an avid cyclist, yoga nut, animal lover and wine nerd.

    An inherent people-person, community involvement comes naturally to Lauren. She initially supported local bars and restaurants through her position as a sales consultant with Southern Glazers Wine and Spirits and was further drawn in when she became executive sommelier, bar manager and events coordinator for Jillian’s Italian Grill and Wine Bar where she curates exquisite and inspiring experiences in a comfortable local setting. She grew immensely through the Leadership Reno County program in 2019 and looks forward to using her talents to support the arts and humanities of Reno county.

  • Christopher Wietrick, City of Hutchinson appointee

    Christopher Wietrick

    Christopher moved to Hutchinson as a small child. Through his twenties, Christopher was a volunteer firefighter for the Forest Service, in Montana. He later joined the Army, as a meteorologist for the artillery division. After moving back to Hutchinson in 2012, Christopher began a campaign to turn Hutchinson into the home of Clark Kent and get the city to proclaim itself as “Smallville, Kansas.” He created Smallville related artwork, promoting my art and the campaign at Third Thursdays and eventually led to the City approving the Smallville proclamation in 2013. Christopher’s Smallville art has been sent all across the globe and can even be seen in the Super Museum, in Metropolis, Illinois (The Home of Superman). Smallville has been in the international spotlight via newspapers, magazines, podcasts (including Kevin Smith’s, with his enthusiastic support of the idea), and a TV show on SYFY, hosted by a promoter of all things geeky, “The Wil Wheaton Project”.

    In recent years, Wietrick has been active in Third Thursdays, created the Smallville Festival and organized/promoted for two years before turning it over to Hutch Rec, served as a member of the Downtown Planning Committee, on the CVB Advisory Board, volunteered for various events, and, currently, serves on the city’s Tree Board, the SculptureWalk Downtown committee, and the Hutchinson/Reno County Arts and Humanities Council. “I love to be a part of promoting Smallville but, also recognize that Hutchinson is the source of my passion

Heartland Collective

  • About the Collective
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    “Our Hearts are in the Arts.”

    In 2018, community members worked together to have a conversation about the past, present, and future of the arts and culture in Reno County. Together, they established a list of goals and outlined a vision for the collective identity of arts and cultural organizations and representatives. Their goals and vision statement concluded with, “Our Hearts are in the Arts.”

    The Heartland Arts and Culture Collective has come to Reno County through the goals of community members over several years. The Heartland Collective is a new vision for shared identity and action on behalf of all of those who work within and adjacent to and whose lives are touched by the arts and humanities. The collective will begin meeting formally in 2021.

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