After five years of planning, the joint City of Ann Arbor and the University of Michigan project launched its inaugural season as the Ann Arbor Summer Festival in 1984.
Originally envisioned as a drama festival to take place annually during the summer doldrums and to bring visitors and entertainment dollars to the City, it was the brainchild of UM’s James R. Packard and local (and former UM Regent) philanthropist Eugene B. Power. The governance was by a 12-member Board of Directors, appointed by the City Council and the University, with pledges of financial support from local businesses and community leaders.
In 1983, when Marcel Marceau agreed to open for the Festival and to establish his North American mime school in conjunction with the University of Michigan School of Music, the cornerstone was laid. In 2013, the Festival celebrated its 30th season. Over the years, venues have been added, Top of the Park finds a new home, programming has taken new directions, but for three weeks each summer, we are guaranteed great performances, free entertainment and activities for all ages, and a renewed sense of community.
The Ann Arbor District Library is pleased to work with the Ann Arbor Summer Festival in capturing its history by digitizing Ann Arbor News articles, 30 years of Festival Guides and publications, photographs of artists and performances, and of people having fun. Be sure to let us know if you see yourself in any of them. Also listen to our interviews with past and present festival organizers and volunteers as they give us the behind-the-scenes tour of the Festival. For more information, visit the Ann Arbor Summer Festival's official website.