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Mission and History

Celebrating our 138th season!

In 2014, UMS received the National Medal of Arts, the nation’s highest public artistic honor, awarded annually by the president of the United States at the White House to those who have “demonstrated a lifetime of creative excellence.”

Housed on the campus of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, UMS is one of the oldest performing arts presenters in the country, committed to connecting audiences with performing artists from around the world in uncommon and engaging experiences.

With a program steeped in music, dance, and theater, UMS contributes to a vibrant cultural community by presenting approximately 60-75 performances and over 100 free educational activities each season. UMS also commissions new work, sponsors artist residencies, and organizes collaborative projects with local, national, and international partners.


The center of all that is UMS. We believe in the power of world class performing arts to inspire, transform, and connect individuals with transcendent experiences. From the illustrious to the unknown, from the traditional to the experimental, UMS opens the doors to creative journeys.


We see the performing arts as a conversation. Our programs feature community events, online discussions, and so much more. We hope UMS lives beyond the walls of our venues and becomes part of your thinking, memories, and lives.


Learning is core to our mission, and we love to provide creative learning experiences for our entire community. Every season, we offer a spectrum of Education and Community Engagement activities focusing on K-12 students, teachers, teens, university students, families, adults, and cultural and ethnic communities. We exist to create the special spark that inspires lifelong passion for creativity and the performing arts.

Come back soon for a history through highlights.