Cultural Economic Development
The Ann Arbor area's arts and cultural scene is recognized as one of its most valuable assets - enriching not only the quality of life in our region, but also serving as a catalyst for economic development.
The Community Foundation has always recognized the important role local arts & culture organizations play in creating a vibrant quality of place. Local examples are plentiful. The Ann Arbor Art Fairs, the Ann Arbor Summer Festival, University Musical Society, Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum, Ann Arbor Symphony, Michigan Theatre, Ann Arbor Art Center, Wild Swan Theater, the Ark, Riverside Art Center in Ypsilanti, the Purple Rose Theatre in Chelsea, and high school music programs that have earned National Grammy Awards are among the many community organizations and programs that provide a rich cultural experience in our area.
Research has long supported the idea that a vibrant arts and cultural sector is an integral part to promoting economic prosperity. Keeping our region an attractive and creative place in which to live, work, learn, and visit inspires young people to stay, families to raise children here, and companies to invest here. Maintaining a vibrant and active creative sector helps local businesses and institutions attract and retain top talent.
AAACF has a long history of supporting our local arts & culture sector - awarding more than $2 million in grants that have helped local institutions grow and thrive - from helping the Ann Arbor Summer Festival institute a volunteer program to collect onsite donations to keep Top of the Park free to helping the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum grow and expand its programming. Both institutions attract thousands of visitors to our area each year, generating local economic activity.
Through a new strategic initiative - Cultural Economic Development - AAACF seeks to strengthen Washtenaw County's arts & culture sector in ways the promote economic development and community prosperity. Beyond investing in the arts for art's sake - AAACF's new initiative seeks to expand community support for our creative sector through a three-part strategy: convening community stakeholders to identify opportunities, collecting and sharing data that demonstrate the local economic impact of arts & culture activities, and mobilizing private resources for creative investments.
Established in 1994, AAACF's Endowment for the Arts gives the Community Foundation the capacity and flexibility to award grants that promote arts & culture throughout our region - including the creation, production, presentation and education in the arts.