Ann Arbor’s The Ark launches fundraiser to make sure music lives on

GlobalGiving campaign will help fund virtual music, youth, educational programs

The Ark has been delivering virtual concerts and programs to music lovers online during the coronavirus pandemic. Photo courtesy of The Ark. (JenniferPatselas)

ANN ARBOR – Although The Ark closed the doors to its downtown Ann Arbor venue in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is still trying to keep the music going.

It launched the free Ark Family Room Series in April and offers between 15 to 20 virtual programs a month. But having to cancel over 100 live concerts has had a significant financial impact on the venue. Without live concerts, The Ark isn’t earning ticket sales and concessions revenue, which made up between 65-70% of its annual revenue, said Executive Director of The Ark Marianne James.

“The only income we have coming in at this point is from donations: memberships, grants, sponsorships, donations to our virtual series (which we split with the artists), and other gifts,” said James.

Recently, the 55-year-old nonprofit organization launched a GlobalGiving campaign to raise money to fulfill its mission, continue virtual programming and keep people connected to music.

It wants to raise $25,000 to keep funding programs that reach beyond Ann Arbor. The funds from the campaign would allow The Ark to continue its virtual concerts and possibly create more programs, like live Open Stage events for schoolchildren, according to James.

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“Our staff is actually working harder than ever to meet this need, so the costs for the programming clearly outpaces any income by far,” said James. “Funds raised through the GlobalGiving campaign will also help us develop new youth, educational and family programs. The new programming expands music’s reach, increases accessibility, and we know it will serve the music community beyond COVID-19.”

Currently, the campaign has received almost $11,000. The Ford Motor Company Fund has promised to match the first $15,000 of the campaign.

Donate to the GlobalGiving campaign here.

“There are a lot of unknowns right now, but what we do know is that The Ark’s mission of enriching spirits and building community around shared live music experiences is more relevant than ever, and that creating opportunities for online music and community is fulfilling a huge need. We also hear loud and clear that people recognize in these trying times just how important these events are to their well-being,” said James.

Virtual programs also offer a space for music lovers to pay musicians who have had to cancel tours and shows until 2021.

James said that on average, the virtual programs have 200 viewers through Facebook or YouTube, as well as a global reach. Some supporters are local and loyal fans of the music venue, but others are in Australia, Ireland and the state of Washington.

Currently, it is working to develop ticketed events and is exploring ways to make virtual programs more enriching and engaging for patrons.

The Ark had received a federal Paycheck Protection Plan loan, which allowed it to pay its staff through early June, but the venue has since had to make cuts in staffing and spending, according to James.


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About the Author:

Sarah has worked for WDIV since June 2018. She covers community events, good eats and small businesses in Ann Arbor and has a Master's degree in Applied Linguistics from Grand Valley State University.