2016-17 Annual Report

In the 2016-17 season, you played an essential part in magical moments at UMS.

2016-17 Annual Report: See our year in Review

Photo of Matthew Vanbesien

Thank you.

I’m delighted to share with you the UMS 2017 Annual Report, which looks back on extraordinary moments from the 2016-17 season — reflecting the wide array of artistic brilliance we bring to the stage and the creative learning that engages audiences off the stage. Whether you attend a single performance or subscribe to the season, volunteer, and/or support our work with a gift, please know we value your engagement and all that you make possible at UMS.

As we look back, we are also leaning forward as we envision and create the next chapter for UMS. The performing arts have always played an important and unique role in engaging the world — one we believe is more vital than ever. I look forward to meeting all of you in the coming months as we share another season of innovative artistry and extraordinary experiences. Thank you for helping UMS bring the world to Michigan.

Signature of Matthew Vanbesien, UMS President

You brought the world to Ann Arbor.

The 2016-17 UMS Season was filled with brilliant performances from some of the most innovative performing artists from around the globe.

UMS has given me so many incredible, once-in-a-lifetime opportunities...from watching the Chicago Symphony Orchestra to seeing Yo-Yo Ma, Edgar Meyer, and Chris Thile, every performance has been absolutely exquisite. I firmly believe that music and the arts add so much vibrancy to a community...

You joined us at creative venues.

Over 1,200 community members opened the UMS season at the Ann Arbor Skatepark, where a free community-wide celebration showcased the art of improvisation, bringing professional skateboarders and jazz artists Jason Moran & The Bandwagon together in unexpected ways.

Fantastic jazz from a stellar performer + watching the talented skateboarders was a real treat. This is the sort of event that makes one a lifetime supporter of UMS and the great programming you all continue to deliver. Thank you very much for a great time!

You spread joy.

The 238 musicians from the Budapest Festival Orchestra and UMS Choral Union offered a most joyful performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony at Hill Auditorium.

I've heard a lot of other performances of Beethoven's 9th but this was the best one ever...a truly incredible evening. What an incredible group of artists! Thank you for giving us this glorious evening.

You welcomed the world’s pre-eminent orchestra and conductor for the second major orchestral residency at UMS.

The Berlin Philharmonic, on Sir Simon Rattle's final U.S. tour as the ensemble's music director, performed two concerts at Hill Auditorium, which brought audiences to their feet. Off the stage, 17 residency activities engaged hundreds of U-M students and the wider community in extraordinary experiences.

I made an eight-hour round-trip to see the Sunday concert...What a fantastic experience to see and hear them in person! Still pinching myself that I saw the world's best orchestra so close to home!

You listened to five important personal stories...

In Ping Chong + Company’s Beyond Sacred: Voices of Muslim Identity, five young adults shared their personal stories about coming of age as Muslims in New York City post-9/11 at a time of increasing Islamophobia. The innovative documentary theater presentation, including a School Day Performance for high school students, initiated important community conversations and transformative learning off the stage.

This production was very moving and inspirational! Attendance should be mandatory for all who live in USA.

Audience Member, posted online at ums.org

You continued the conversation off the stage...

Off the stage, an extended residency of educational activities with total attendance of 1,620 fostered important dialogue and greater understanding. Activities included a public lecture and U-M class visits with Ping Chong, a community forum on Investigating Islam, a full-day cultural immersion workshop for local educators, the opportunity for U-M theater students and Muslim student leaders to connect with the five cast members, and a UMS School Day Performance and workshops for area high school students.

As an immigrant...I am grateful this creative community-based art project is being done...It is empowering to hear the stories of individuals and groups that are never heard, [and] to affirm, acknowledge, and embrace one another’s identities...Thank you ALL who are part of this work but more important, I APPRECIATE the cast for being brave to share your stories!!!!

And, you shared your own stories.

Hundreds of high school students attended the School Day Performance. And 108 free workshops at five area high schools in Ann Arbor, Plymouth, Ypsilanti, and Eastpointe gave 420 students the chance to share their own personal stories through documentary theater performances.

Never really be so quick to judge and be judgmental of people because you really don’t know their circumstances...or even what they’re going through at that time...I just hope this opens people’s eyes to just be kind.

Area high school student who participated in the workshops

You embraced cutting-edge work.

UMS Renegade has encouraged UMS and our audiences to embrace provocative work that pushes artistic boundaries. Seven innovative performances in the 2016-17 season invited adventurous audiences to explore new places, including the Detroit Downtown Boxing Gym for Zimbabwe-born choreographer Nora Chipaumire’s portrait of myself as my father.

I thought this is what the Renegade series should be about! Three performers filled the space for an hour...it worked! Loved the Detroit / Ann Arbor connection! ...I feel proud that UMS provided an actual boxing ring for this performance.

You delighted in the unexpected.

Igor & Moreno surprised and delighted UMS audiences as they bounced for 73 minutes throughout their performance, never stopping even as they moved throughout Arthur Miller Theatre to deliver red solo cups and Vernors — offering a fun nod to a local refreshment.

Your work was honestly the perfect show for me in this specific moment of time. My cheeks were literally sore from smiling so much...Not only was it a feel-good show, but being surrounded by the lively audience had such an impact on the performance as well. I mean the little boy in the front row, you can’t beat that...

You were awed by one of the most original musical thinkers of our time.

To celebrate the composer Steve Reich’s 80th birthday and to mark the 40th anniversary of one of his most celebrated compositions, 19 musicians from two of Chicago’s world-class ensembles, Eighth Blackbird and Third Coast Percussion, teamed up to perform Music for 18 Musicians. When the performance ended, the audience sat in stunned silence for what seemed like an eternity, until the spell was broken with thunderous applause.

Music For 18 Musicians is my all-time favorite contemporary classical piece and seeing it performed live was a dream come true. The ensemble was impeccable and as always, Hill Auditorium is a fantastic place to see such a show...to see it performed live was amazing...For one hour and eight minutes I was spellbound, living in musical heaven...Thank you so much UMS for helping me to live a dream!

Inspired Audience Member

You traveled to far-away places.

Some 800 binaural headsets — special headphones that provided an intimate 3-D landscape of surround sound — brought UMS audiences through a totally immersive experience as they traveled with Simon McBurney to the Amazon rainforest in Complicite’s The Encounter.

Incredible immersive theater. The use of such intimate 3-D sound brought everyone into the Amazon rain forest...Simon McBurney’s acting helped shape the world in which we were immersed. Complicite does it again.

You tuned in from home.

Over 7,900 tuned in via livestream to watch three innovative presentations: Igor & Moreno’s Idiot-Syncrasy, Ping Chong + Company’s Beyond Sacred: Voices of Muslim Identity, and Steve Reich @ 80.

Outstanding. Thanks so much for the broadcast!

Audience Member, posted online at ums.org

You amazed us with your generosity.

69% of the UMS Season was made possible by philanthropic support.

Season Revenues - Actual
Earned Revenue31%
Ticket Revenue27%
Other Income4%
Contributed/Philanthropic Support69%
UMS Endowment Interest8%
U-M Partnership10%
Foundations and Government7%
Season Expenses - Actual
Administration & Development15%
NOTE: All figures derived from actual revenues and expenses as listed in the FY17 financial statement.

You gave your time.

Over 700 people gave their time to serve on the UMS National Council, Board, or Senate, or to volunteer as UMS Ambassadors and Ushers, or singers in the UMS Choral Union.

I LOVE ushering students to UMS musical events, where they share an incredibly creative, mind expanding, inspiring experience!!! The energy they exude before and after the performance is such a transformation. As a former teacher, I leave UMS events feeling so grateful that OUR TOWN truly gives to the Arts and gives Art to our community! And for our future generations!

You expanded access for all students.

Thanks to generous support, UMS is able to offer all college students steep ticket discounts. And through a special program, Bert’s Tickets, first- and second-year U-M students are invited to attend a UMS performance of their choice on us.

Because of UMS's incredible commitment to bringing incredible artists here and making them extremely accessible to students, I have experienced much more here than any of my friends who are students in other major "art" cities like New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles.

You provided transformative learning off the stage.

At a free workshop hosted by UMS and the Ann Arbor District Library, curious community members joined Gareth Fry — the Olivier Award-winning sound designer behind Complicite's The Encounter and the creator for the soundscape for the 2012 Olympic Games’ opening ceremony — to learn about binaural sound and recording, and how the technology is used to create a 3-D surround sound sensation.

UMS goes above and beyond when it comes to making the arts deeply meaningful to the young people in our region. Without exception, each performance my students attended through UMS was far more than simply seeing a show. In addition to developing arts appreciation in young people, their education team thinks broadly about how the arts can act as a catalyst to opening hearts and minds...remarkable learning takes place.

You connected students with world-renowned artists.

Through master classes, conversations, and class visits, U-M students had the opportunity to connect with visiting artists in transformative and life-changing experiences.

It was a life changing moment to have had the opportunity to conduct for Sir Simon Rattle. His insight and love of the music was an inspiration for me. He was very generous and encouraging to us...It is truly remarkable that I can say that I worked with him...I can’t wait for the next time something like this happens here at the University of Michigan!

You inspired thousands of young students.

K-12 students always bring a joyous energy and contagious enthusiasm to UMS School Day Performances.

Dear DakhaBrakha, Thank you for the performance. It was amazing. It was awesome the way you took Ukrainian style and mixed it with all types of other styles from all over the world...I heard you do things on YouTube that I will be sure to watch. Thank you very much for the performance and keep on going! PS: Will our class and all the others be able to come to another UMS performance? (I hope so.)

You extended creative learning opportunities at local K-12 schools.

UMS offers free pre- and post-show workshops back at school, designed around School Day Performances, where students work with teaching artists to learn more about the performance, explore an artist’s work, and have the chance to try similar creations — all connected to what they’re learning in class.

Thank you for the awesome classes. My farvite [sic] part is tap dancing. Ms. Jennie and Ms. Suzin [sic] let us make sounds on the tap board. I liked math, reading, writing, and science...Everything I did was fun. I want to be in a tap dance class to show what I already know, and learn even more every time.

You ensured K-12 students from under-resourced schools and classrooms could participate.

Thanks to generous philanthropic support, hundreds of students from under-resourced schools — including students from Ypsilanti’s Holmes Elementary School, where over 90% of the students qualify for free and reduced lunch — were able to attend a School Day Performance and participate in free UMS workshops back at school.

Thank you for inviting us to the Dorrance Dance performance...I am thankful because you invited us even tho we didn’t have enough money to buy tickets...and for all the tap dance teachers and especially Michelle Dorrance.

You established new endowments.

The University of Michigan Credit Union (UMCU) established the first corporate endowment at UMS. In its first year, the UMCU Arts Adventures Endowed Fund provided $25,000 in ticket discounts for college students and free tickets and transportation to UMS School Day performances for K-12 students from under-resourced schools. The fund will continue to grow and provide ongoing annual support for future generations of students.

At the University of Michigan Credit Union, we're thrilled that in its first year the UMCU Arts Adventures Program has already increased access to extraordinary arts experiences and exceptional learning opportunities for hundreds of students.

You celebrated 30 years of leadership through the power of collective giving.

Hundreds of community members and colleagues from the performing arts field gave a collective $1.35 million, in gifts ranging from $25 - $150,000, to honor Ken Fischer’s extraordinary contributions to UMS, U-M, and our wider community.

It’s a pleasure to give thanks to Ken Fischer for his amazing 30 years of service to UMS, U-M, Ann Arbor, and the Southeast Michigan community. Ken and the UMS team have built something in Ann Arbor that is absolutely priceless – and he’s built it for everybody.

However you participated...
your gifts, your time, and your presence meant UMS can continue to inspire people of all ages by connecting our audiences and artists from around the world in uncommon and engaging experiences.

Thank you.