Historic Ypsilanti building in Depot Town to host University of Michigan arts presenter – MLive.com

Historic Ypsilanti building in Depot Town to host University of Michigan arts presenter – MLive.com

In this file photo, the Ypsilanti Freighthouse at 100 Market Place is seen on Monday, November 28, 2016 in Ypsilanti, Mich.Katy Kildee | The Ann Arbor News
YPSILANTI, MI – A renowned performing arts presenter that regularly hosts music, theater and artists from around at the world at the University of Michigan will be taking up residency twice a year in a historic building in Ypsilanti’s Depot Town beginning in 2023.
The Ypsilanti Freighthouse will be set aside twice yearly for arts programming and performances through the University Musical Society (UMS), a nonprofit affiliated with UM, under an agreement with the city, which owns the space.
“There is an incredible amount of excitement about this possibility to partner with you all here in Ypsilanti and with the citizens of Ypsilanti,” said UMS President Matthew VanBesien in a presentation to city leaders on Tuesday, July 26.
“There is also a great humility about how we approach this work, and so we are not coming in to partner purely in terms of what we want to see happen, we want this to be very much centered in this community, with your residents and really work together in a … new way for UMS,” he said.
The Freighthouse, once a distribution point for goods passing through the city by rail dating back to 1878, now serves as a community center available for events, as well as a winter warming station and summer cooling point, following a resident-organized renovation effort of the historic structure.
UMS works primarily in Ann Arbor and on the University of Michigan’s campus, but also holds arts programming in Dearborn, Flint, Detroit and Ypsilanti, according to VanBesien.
The group intends to take up a seasonal four-week residency twice a year in the red-brick building and imagines smaller-scale performances like jazz and classical music, according to Cayenne Harris, vice president of education and community engagement for the arts presenter.
The organization wants to identify what events it might host through dialogue and public meetings with residents, Harris told Ypsilanti City Council. The programming could include storytelling sessions or yoga classes, she added. “Who knows, the sky is the limit.”
The performing arts group, which has collaborated with local Ypsilanti organizations like the Corner Health Center and Riverside Arts Center, hopes to serve as a platform for local musicians and artists, Harris said.
The events will be prioritized to Ypsilanti residents, according to an agreement city leaders inked with UMS in May and amended on Tuesday. That could mean low-cost pricing with a ceiling of $10 for tickets or making the offerings completely free for residents, the agreement states.
Read more Ypsilanti news here.
The performing arts group intends to start with a 10-day pilot in April of 2023, VanBesien said, but the agreement then runs through 2024, providing four weeks each spring and fall where UMS will occupy and manage the Freighthouse space. The organization will pay the city $4,500 a week under the arrangement.
Ypsilanti leaders lauded the potential behind the partnership.
“I sometimes am a visionary person, and I envision great things for the city, the two of us working together,” said Mayor Lois Allen-Richardson. She said she was excited the program could offer opportunities for arts training for young people in the city who might not otherwise be able to access it, and hoped the arrangement would evolve into a long-lasting one, she said.
UMS dates back at 1879 and is the first performing arts presenter created at a major university in the United States, VanBesien said, adding he hopes the group will be in Ypsilanti over “a much, much longer horizon.”
More from The Ann Arbor News:
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Meet the 2022 Ypsilanti Community High School Hall of Fame inductees
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Is now the time for a major expansion of Ann Arbor-Ypsilanti bus services?
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