March 05, 2019

The Arts Alliance, MOMA, The Smithsonian—In naming just a few of her professional experiences, not to mention her Master’s degree in art history from Johns Hopkins University, one could reasonably assume that Tamara Real was an artist extraordinaire. Although Tamara was not herself an artist, she was influenced from childhood on by her mother, an accomplished artist who particularly excelled in the field of paper marbling. Tamara would devote much of her life to enhancing arts education, access, and artist support. Her life is a beautiful example of how a passionate person can successfully advocate for change and make a tangible difference for the community.

Locally, Tamara may be remembered not only for being the first executive director of the Arts Alliance and for her successful PR & marketing firm, GetReal! Communications, which enhanced nonprofit arts and cultural organizations, but also for spreading her love for the arts in often personal ways. She and the love of her life, Carl Rinne, remodeled a former church on Fountain Street that was featured on HGTV. She remembered who liked what particular pieces of art she had and gave them to people purely because she thought they would appreciate them. Tamara demonstrated how art can provide comfort, for her life was not characterized solely by beauty; she faced the very real challenges of ALS, which took her life, after Lewy Body Dementia claimed her husband Carl.

Arts and culture can be intimidating concepts, especially for those who don’t consider themselves to be artistic. Tamara, through her advocacy, writing and living example, sought to break down these barriers and to encourage creativity and accessibility to arts and culture for people of all ages and walks of life.

Given her lifelong philosophy, it is fitting that as part of her estate, Tamara provided a generous gift to the AAACF Arts Endowment. In recognition of her generosity, AAACF has established the Tamara Real Fund for the Arts within the general arts endowment.

The timing of this fund seems serendipitous because of our current vision for AAACF’s arts and culture grantmaking: Within Washtenaw County to (1) Activate the artistic and cultural identity of all people and to (2) Ensure a fundamental level of access to arts & culture experiences for all people. Tamara Real’s life demonstrated that these are tangible and reachable outcomes.

Indeed, the Ann Arbor area is forever indebted to the arts & culture contributions Tamara Real made to our community. Through the Tamara Real Fund for the Arts, she will continue that support in perpetuity!