Ann Arbor Summer Festival expands the program to Ypsi this summer

Among other things, for 2021 the Ann Arbor Summer Festival (A2SF) is offering programs in the Ypsilanti area for the first time in the history of the event.

A2SF has canceled its traditional personal program, including its Top of the Park events at Ingalls Mall in Ann Arbor, for the 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, the summer festival hosted small, limited capacity concerts, live streaming events, and other alternative events. Top of the Park will return in 2022, says A2SF Managing Director Mike Michelon.

In the 2021 season, two series will be shown that extend into the Ypsilanti region: Live Here Now and Tiny Tops. Live Here Now has 10-15 “pop-up” concerts in Ann Arbor and 10-15 in Ypsilanti.

“Since Top of the Park isn’t happening, we’re bringing elements of it into the community,” says Michelon.

Another program called Tiny Tops allows Washtenaw Counties to book artists for “intimate concerts for friends and family on their lawn or in the driveway,” says Michelon.

The organizers of A2SF carried out a test run of Tiny Tops last year, but only for two weeks. Michelon says it would have to be “a little too much without the existing infrastructure”.

However, this summer he expects at least 200 tiny tops concerts across the county. In addition to providing local residents with a chance to see live residents, the program will “pump thousands of dollars in artist fees into our local artist ecosystem,” says Michelon.

According to Michelon, A2SF has always been designed for all Washtenaw County’s residents. “Our ticket data shows that this is the case.” However, the organizers of the festival have been planning more contact with Ypsilanti for several years.

“We have been talking about the work in Ypsilanti for over a year, with the intention of bringing a piece of the festival to Ypsilanti in 2020, but then there was a pandemic,” says James Carter, programming and operations manager at A2SF. “We had a great plan last year to bring pop-up events to Ypsi and Ann Arbor, but we couldn’t take care of it. That will be the main focus of what we do this year.”

The Live Now popup events in Ypsilanti, Ypsilanti Township and Superior Township are hosted in collaboration with a number of community partners, including the Ypsilanti District Library and Ypsilanti Community Schools (YCS). YCS will provide meals to children under the age of 18 at some of the larger community events.

“It’s exciting, something we’ve never done in terms of public relations,” says Carter.

The idea for the pop-up concerts arose in part from listening sessions and other efforts by the festival’s Community Engagement Committee to break down barriers to participation. The pandemic has helped clear that vision and force change, says Michelon.

Carter says, “Crisis is opportunity.”

“We’re excited that the pandemic created an opportunity in some ways, and we’re trying to take this opportunity to transform the organization in really meaningful ways,” he says.

More information on A2SF programming is available Here.

Sarah Rigg is a freelance writer and editor in Ypsilanti Township and the project manager of Ypsilanti on the floor. She has joined Focus as a news writer in early 2017 and occasionally writes articles for others Output media group Publications. You can reach them at [email protected].

Photo courtesy of A2SF.

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