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Ford Motor Company Builds On Strong Arts and Music Commitment With $500,000 Contribution to The Ark

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Ford Motor Company is building on its strong commitment to the arts by contributing $500,000 to The Ark, Michigan’s iconic folk and roots music venue celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.

The Ark will recognize this commitment from Ford with the naming of the Ford Listening Room at The Ark.

“The Ark is a cultural treasure, not just for southeast Michigan, but for musicians around the world,” said Jim Vella, president, Ford Motor Company Fund and Community Services, the charitable arm of Ford Motor Company. “Our contribution will help ensure The Ark remains a vibrant home for performers and an important community resource.”

Ford first started supporting The Ark in 1991. The $500,000 contribution, which is coming from both Ford Motor Company and the Ford Motor Company Fund, is part of a $2.5 million capital campaign to fund the purchase and renovations of the club’s 400-seat venue. The money from the campaign will also be used to lay the ground work for increased community outreach activities.

“Ford is a long-standing partner and truly values The Ark’s mission,” said Marianne James, executive director of The Ark. “This is a transformational gift. It helps safeguard our mission for future generations and supports us in expanding what The Ark can provide to Michigan and the music world.”

Founded in a house by four local churches in 1965, The Ark grew from a fireside gathering place for music and poetry near the University of Michigan campus into a regular stop for musicians ranging from Doc Watson to Patti Smith. The Ark moved to its current location at 316 S. Main Street in Ann Arbor in 1996 and purchased the space in 2012. The nonprofit venue hosts over 300 live shows a year.

Ford’s support for the arts, including folk music, dates back to Henry Ford, who sponsored fiddle contests in the 1920s. More recently, Ford Motor Company Fund has donated $150 million over 10 years to enrich the quality of life for people living in southeastern Michigan. In addition to supporting major institutions such as the Detroit Institute of Arts and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Ford this spring sponsored Detroit Boom City, a multi-media exhibition designed to show how artists can stimulate growth and sustainability in urban neighborhoods.

About Ford Motor Company Fund and Community Services

Ford Motor Company Fund and Community Services works with community and global partners to advance driving safety, education and community life. Ford Motor Company Fund has operated for more than 65 years with ongoing funding from Ford Motor Company. Ford Driving Skills for Life is free, interactive, hands-on safety training focused on skill development and driving techniques, while addressing inexperience, distractions and impaired driving. Innovation in education is encouraged through Ford Blue Oval Scholars, Ford Next Generation Learning and other inspiring programs that enhance high school learning and provide college scholarships and university grants. The Ford Volunteer Corps enlists more than 30,000 Ford employees and retirees each year to work on local projects that strengthen their communities and improve people’s lives in more than 40 countries around the world. For more information, visit

About The Ark

Considered one of the top music clubs in the world, The Ark is renowned for the quality and breadth of its programming. The Ark is an intimate 400-seat club presenting performers who fall into the wide-ranging genres of folk and roots music. Celebrating 50 years in 2015, The Ark is a non-profit organization dedicated to the enrichment of the human spirit through the presentation, preservation and encouragement of folk, roots and ethnic music and related arts. The Ark provides a welcoming atmosphere for all people to listen to, learn about, perform and share music. Visit for more information.

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