Muskegon, Michigan, September 19, 2019—West Michigan Symphony has been awarded a capital grant of $6,088 from the State of Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs (MCACA). The grant will help to fund structural improvements at WMS’s subsidiary venue, The Block, that will provide a better concert environment through abatement of street and other ambient noise from the surrounding neighborhood. In addition, WMS will create a permanent ticket counter in the lobby to provide greater security for box office operations.
Organizations receiving a MCACA grant award are required to match those funds with other public and private dollars. Local support of the project included the Community Foundation for Muskegon County, DTE Energy Foundation, Fifth Third Bank, Grand Haven Area Community Foundation, Harbor Steel & Supply Corporation, Hines Corporation, Mercy Health, Meijer, Nichols, Northern Trust, PNC Bank, Smith Haughey Rice & Roegge, and Warner Norcross+Judd LLP, among many others.
Located in downtown Muskegon, The Block is a listening room for live performances seating 125 on the second level of a restored 1890s building. Its 11-concert core series—marketed under the brand For the musically curious—includes jazz and folk-crossover artists, as well as chamber music by guest artists and members of the West Michigan Symphony. It also presents a music education series for toddlers, a youth string orchestra program, and a summer jazz and winter art film series.
Since The Block opened in 2013, downtown Muskegon has changed beyond recognition, with significant housing and mixed-use building projects, street-scaping, a new Farmers’ Market, restaurants and craft brew pubs. This resurgence has resulted in an increase in ambient noise from the surrounding neighborhood. To address this, the physical improvements will provide greater sound isolation for the venue through the installation of solid wood doors over the lobby entryway, the removal of a glass atrium in the lobby and installation of flooring over the opening. The additional space in the lobby will be used for the installation of the new ticket counter. The project will be undertaken once matching funds have been acquired and the current Block season is completed, in early summer 2020.
The MCACA peer review process allows for each grant application to be competitively considered by a panel of in-state and out-of-state arts and culture professionals. This ensures the taxpayers, who support this project through legislative appropriations, and all other visitors or residents in Michigan will have access to the highest quality arts and cultural experiences.
A complete list of grant awards around the state is available by contacting MCACA at (517) 241-4011, or by visiting the MCACA website at www.michigan.gov/arts.