Located in historic downtown Ann Arbor, The Ark is quite a unique music venue in that it exists as a nonprofit entity. Originally opened in 1965, this 400 seat club was founded by a group of Ann Arbor churches to provide a place for students in the area to express themselves through poetry and music.
In 1977 when funding from the churches was depleted, those who wanted to preserve the venue organized the Ann Arbor Folk Festival as a fundraiser to keep The Ark afloat. The festival achieved its goal by providing The Ark’s supporters enough funding to establish a 501c3 and was successful enough that it still continues today.
Though the original intention was to provide a gathering place for local student performers, the club now hosts world-wide touring acts as well. Primary genres include folk, roots, and ethnic music, and you can catch it live almost every night of the year. They do still play host to an open-stage one night a week, so you’re sure to see the best up and coming acts as well.
Originally substance-free, The Ark now has a club liquor license which under the Michigan Liquor Code means that they can only sell alcohol to members. A membership can be obtained for as little as $5, which helps supplement ticket sales in order to keep the club alive. Though only members can purchase alcohol, they are allowed to buy drinks for their guests over 21. You can find the membership table near the concession stand.
Tickets are mostly general admission, with some options to purchase reserved seats in advance. As it is an intimate listening room, the general politeness policy is to refrain from talking to others in the venue, and to take crying or talking children into the hallway or lobby (for family-friendly shows). The non-profit assure plentiful accommodations to guests with disabilities including seating accommodations, a wheelchair ramp and elevator, and an FM system for guests who are hard of hearing. The acoustics are top-notch, and there are plenty of pre or post-show dinner spots surrounding the club to make your evening complete.