This weekend, UP Shakes was proud to receive the Outstanding Community Arts Impact award at the 21st Annual Arts Awards.

Shakespeare and Galileo were both born in 1564. This is a beautiful coincidence, because they have a lot in common. Just as Galileo expanded our understanding of the cosmos, Shakespeare expanded our understanding of what it means to be human.

Through the use of soliloquy, Shakespeare shows us inside the minds of a broad spectrum of humanity. He doesn’t just show us princes and beggars, murderers and fools, he asks us to put ourselves in their shoes. Shakespeare and other great writers who followed him invite us all to be a little more empathetic, a little more humane.

And there is scientific evidence to back it up. FMRI brain scan studies reveal that when we read fiction, we engage the same parts of our brains that we use to makes sense of interpersonal relationships. People who absorb literary fiction perform better on emotional intelligence tests than people who do not.

With everything that’s going on in the world right now, it’s easy for the arts to get overlooked. But we do that at our peril. It is now that we have most need of our humanity.

Marquette is an almost embarrassingly beautiful little city. And not just because of Lake Superior. It’s beautiful because it’s full of people who are constantly striving to create more. To the City of Marquette Arts and Culture Center, to everyone who voted for UP Shakes to receive this award, and to everyone who bought a ticket to one of our shows, “I can no other answer makes but thanks, / And thanks, and ever thanks.”

21st Annual Art Awards