The Michigan Theater Foundation

The Michigan Theater Foundation is a non-profit organization whose mission is joyfully serving community, history, public storytelling & the arts.


The foundation was established to save the Michigan Theater from the wrecking ball in 1979, when developers threatened to convert the theater into a food court. Almost forty years later, the Michigan Theater is proud to serve as the community gathering place for the greater Ann Arbor area. Over 300,000 guests attend movies, plays, music and comedy concerts, talks, meetings, parties, weddings and other events each year.

  • "Beautiful theater, great sound and amazing programming - all in downtown Ann Arbor. What could be better?" - Chene K.
  • Established
  • "The Michigan Theater is a true gem - from its nostalgic ambiance, to its live organ music and phenomenal films - it is by far the classiest, coolest and most fun movie house around!" - Pamela L.

History of the Michigan Theater

The story of the historic Michigan Theater is an example of a community’s vision, creativity, and determination succeeding over the bleakness of decline, indifference, and decay. It is a drama of successful rebirth, conceived through active community involvement, nurtured by a unique mix of cultural programming and brought to maturity through dynamic community support.

Our History Timeline


Best Local Film Festival

The Detroit Metro Times

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The Detroit Metro Times named the Cinetopia International Film Festival the best local film festival in Metro Detroit in their annual Best of Detroit ratings. Founded by the Michigan Theater in 2012, Cinetopia focuses on presenting feature length, story-based films – dramas, comedies and documentary films, from across the globe that have screened at the world’s best film festivals

Indiewire Influencer

for Executive Director Russell B. Collins
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Executive Director Russell B. Collins was recognized by Indiewire, the leading news, information, and social networking site for the international independent film community, as one of their 2013 Indiewire Influencers. The Indiewire Influencers list recognizes 40 individuals and organizations from across the country that are shaping the future of the independent film industry. Indiewire also recognized that the Michigan Theater is “one of the nation’s most prestigious movie venues.”

Deals of the Year (Nominee)

The Ann Arbor News
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One of three nonprofit organizations nominated by the Ann Arbor News for their 10th annual Deals of the Year award. Nominees are selected in seven business sector categories that represent the organizations, transactions and individuals that most impacted the business community over the previous year. The Michigan Theater was nominated for its purchase of the State Theatre which prevented the historic art deco facility from being turned into office space.

Sundance Festival USA Official Venue

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Selected as an official venue of the Sundance Film Festival. The MTF was one of a handful of venues across the nation selected to present a premiere screening of a Sundance Film festival film. Other cities selected for this honor included New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Nashville, Madison, San Francisco and Boston. Ann Arbor was the smallest city of those selected and the MTF was the largest venue participating.

Detroit Arts Challenge Recipient

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
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Awarded funding from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to further expand the Cinetopia International Film Festival in Detroit. The Michigan Theater was one of 56 organizations awarded funding out of over 1,400 applicants.

Institutional Capitalization Grant

Kresge Foundation
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The Michigan Theater was awarded a $1.0 million Institutional Capitalization grant from the Kresge Foundation; 141 applications from across the country were submitted, MTF was one of only nine organizations awarded. MTF successfully met the $1.0 million match by raising over $1.0 million in donations from the community. The purpose of the grant and matching funds is to establish an initial $2.0 million Building Reserve Fund which will be used to ensure the long term sustainability of the facility and physical structure of the historic Michigan Theater.

Board Members

Leslie Bash
Deborah Beuche, Vice Chair
Amanda Borsuk
Jamie Buhr, Chair
Jim Burnstein, ex officio
Russell B. Collins, ex officio, Secretary
Rik Cordero
Aaron Dworkin
Paul Freedman
Alan Harris
Marianne James, ex officio

Pat Jenkins
James A. Kirk
Jennifer Moore
Agnes Moy-Sarns
Hillary Murt
Jean P. Rowan, M.D., M.S.
Chip Smith, ex officio
Jim Sterken, Treasurer
Christopher Taylor, ex officio
Alicia Torres
Kathy White

Emeritus Board Members

Henry Aldridge
Alec Allen
Bruce Baker
Ruth Bardenstein
Albert Berriz
John Briggs
Lou Callaway

Martha Darling
C. Wendell (Del) Dunbar
Judy Dow Rumelhart
Irv Smokler
Ron Weiser
Robert F. Whitman

Financial Information (Reports and Form 990)  |   Strategic Plan