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The Ark's Renovations

The next phase of The Ark's renovations will update key support spaces, including the patron restrooms, artists’ dressing rooms and the freight elevator. The Ark’s restrooms will be renovated with more modern equipment and finishes for comfort and function. The freight elevator shaft will be extended to allow ground level loading and unloading, and dressing rooms will be more up to date and attractive for the wide range of artists The Ark hosts. These improvements are critical to providing a premiere venue experience to our artists, patrons, volunteers and staff.

Recently the Michigan Council for Arts & Cultural Affairs announced a $70,000 grant award toward the support spaces renovation project at The Ark. This MCACA grant requires a 1-to-1 cash match and you can help!  The gifts we raise now will position The Ark to accomplish many important 2020 goals, including the completion of this renovation project by August!

The Entryway and Concert Production Projects

On Saturday, June 8th, 2019 The Ark celebrated completion of the Entryway and Concert Production projects with an Open House for the public. About 300 friends, new and old, came by to check out the new look of the renovated Ark and hear some of our wonderful Michigan talent demonstrate new state-of-the-art sound and lighting with performances on The Ark stage.

The Entryway & Façade project created a signature public presence for The Ark, one of Michigan’s cornerstone arts and culture organizations. To achieve this impact, the entire front was redesigned. An extended canopy, new signage and displays, improved lighting and two pairs of custom glass doors featuring a montage of Ark artists greatly enhances The Ark’s Main Street presence and communicates more clearly to the public what The Ark is all about. The Ark’s logo identifying the venue in neon is on the three exposed sides of the new canopy. Inside the entryway, the lobby was opened up and expanded.  The new box office is larger and has two service windows instead of just one. The updated stairwell welcomes the public up to the main floor with a curated collection of The Ark’s collectible Folk Festival posters. With project oversight by The Ark’s Operations Director, Emily Jo Ross, this dramatic transformation of The Ark’s entrance paired the architectural talent of Mitchell and Mouatt with artist Jocelyn Edin, whose design work includes the custom doors and the stairwell art.

Also in 2019, The Ark was able to take on another important initiative focused on lighting, sound and stage upgrades to ensure The Ark’s ability to deliver the highest quality, intimate listening room experiences for today’s audiences and the wide array of artists The Ark presents. Led by The Ark’s Sound Tech Manager, Joe Giese, and Operations Director Emily Jo Ross, the Concert Production Project included contracting with sound consultants to analyze and “tune” the room, contracting with a lighting consultant to design the stage lighting, purchasing new PA equipment, stage equipment, and stage lighting, and facility improvements such as a new stage floor and stage curtain, and new sound baffling treatments.  The legendary Ford Listening Room at The Ark has never looked or sounded better.

Each transformative in its own special way, the Entryway and Concert Production projects were made possible by the generosity of a challenge gift from Jack & Irene Ball, two MCACA grants, and hundreds of donations from Ark supporters.


Your gift will help The Ark do more in 2020. There are many ways to support The Ark. Any gift of any size is helpful and appreciated and gifts can be pledged over 1-5 years.

SEAT SPONSORSHIP – Add your own special inscription to the legendary listening room with a seat sponsorship gift to The Ark.  Seat sponsorships are available for new gifts to The Ark's renovation projects of $1,000 and $2,500. Seat sponsorships will receive recognition on the drink rails at The Ark. Availability is limited.

Gifts can also be made in honor of the RFD Boys as part of The Ark’s special tribute. The RFD Boys have played The Ark more than any other band, and hold a very special place in our hearts. Gifts of any amount can be made to The Ark in their honor and donors will be recognized as Friends of the RFD Boys. 

Please consider a gift to The Ark today. Donations of any amount can be made online or contact Charlotte at The Ark for more information at or (734) 761-1800.


Thank you for helping The Ark enrich lives for 50 years more!

In 2012, The Ark negotiated to purchase its current space as a condominium.  The purchase capitalized on The Ark’s previous build-out of the space as well as its identity as a downtown Ann Arbor mainstay. The Campaign for The Ark was planned to pay off the loan for the purchase and fund renovations of the concessions area. Updating old equipment and furniture and accommodating capacity more comfortably were critical to The Ark’s future. 

Fundraising was led by key gifts from the Harry A. and Margaret D. Towsley Foundation, Ford Motor Company and the Ford Motor Company Fund, and the Weiser Family.  Artists joined the effort, with benefit concerts by Jeff Daniels and Raul Malo.  Many more from the community stepped up with their own generous gifts to the Campaign.

The Ark hired Ann Arbor-based Mitchell and Mouat Architects to design renovations, and planning was completed in fall of 2015.  In August of 2016 the Campaign for The Ark passed its original goal of $2.5 million.  With a 2017 grant from the Michigan Council for Arts & Cultural Affairs to start improvements in the Ford Listening Room, and community gifts to match, the campaign ultimately raised over $2.8 million. The successful completion of the campaign was announced at the 40th Ann Arbor Folk Festival in January 2017.  Phase I renovations, which had begun in December, were completed in February.

The Ark thanks the hundreds of donors who made these major achievements possible!

Campaign for The Ark Committee

Judy Dow Rumelhart
Honorary Chair

Bob Guenzel

Bill Ammerman
Irene Ball
Gerri Barr
Charlotte Csicsila
Del Dunbar
Peter Grace
Richard Greene
Steve Hamp
Kathy Huss
Marianne James
Renee Jin
Diana Kern
Bill Kinley
Dave Lutton
Maureen Martin
Susan McClanahan
Jill McDonough
Jamie Mistry
Don Postema
Don Rumelhart
Anya Siglin
Tom Stoll
Mark Stranahan
Curt Wolf