The Arts Alliance grew out of a county-wide arts summit in 1999, at which 150 arts/cultural and business leaders expressed a strong need for an umbrella organization to support and promote arts and culture throughout Ann Arbor and Washtenaw County. A business plan was prepared, and in 2001 the Arts Alliance was formed with the support of the Ann Arbor Area Chamber of Commerce, which recognizes the critical role arts and culture plays in the quality of life enjoyed by businesses and residents in the area.

Since its founding, the operations of the Arts Alliance have been guided by a volunteer board, with part-time staffing supported by funding from the Chamber. The Arts Alliance is now a separate incorporated entity, and has applied for non-profit status enabling it to receive tax-deductible donations and apply for grants on its own behalf, while still being housed in the Chamber’s offices.

Activities of the Arts Alliance since its founding have focused on a wish list of goals prepared at the 1999 arts summit. These include an online calendar of cultural events housed on the website of the Ann Arbor Area Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, studies on arts spaces and the economic impact of arts and culture in Washtenaw County (text in blue should be links, typical). Many of these past activities have garnered significant visibility in the local press for issues relating to arts and culture.

In 2004, we became the official re-granting agency for Michigan Council on Arts and Cultural Affairs mini-grants to arts groups in Washtenaw, Livingston and Monroe Counties. We have also built connections to area educational institutions, and we have held several well-attended events that give local artists and staffers from cultural organizations the opportunity to interact and network. More information on our activities can be found on the Events and Initiatives pages of this website.

Activities currently in progress, or envisioned in the near future, include:

  • Developing a forum on this website to facilitate interaction among those interested in arts and culture
  • Developing a Cultural Plan for Washtenaw County
  • As part of the Cultural Plan, developing a census of artists in the region, which will allow us to track the shape and growth of the arts community.
  • Developing arts facilities as an outgrowth of our study of arts space issues, which might include performance, studio, and/or gallery space, as well as office space for small arts organizations.

All of these activities, of course, require time, energy, and funding. If you are interested in helping us with any of these, please contact us, or see the Join Us page of this website. Thank you for your interest and support!


Tamara Real, Director
(734) 214-0112
  Eleni Gouvas, Arts Alliance Program Assistant

Angela Martín-Barcelona, Marketing Director
  Cindy Johnson, Special Projects Coordinator

2008 Advisory Board

David Esau
Cornerstone Design

J. Matthew A. Pollock
Representative of Weidmayer, Schneider, Raham & Bennett, CPAs

Deb Mexicotte

Robb Woulfe
Ann Arbor Summer Festival

Mary Kerr
Immediate Past Chair
Ann Arbor Area Convention & Visitors Bureau

Jill Ault

Jesse Bernstein
Ann Arbor Area Chamber of Commerce


Phil D’Anieri
Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation

Michael David Nisson
Hole in One, LLC

Susan Katz Froning
Nonprofit Enterprise at Work

Elizabeth Parkinson
Ann Arbor SPARK

Melissa Milton-Pung
Washtenaw County Dept. of Planning and Environment

James Christen Steward
University of Michigan Museum of Art

Larry Newhouse
Eastern Michigan University

Mark Palms
River Folk Festival

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