Cheboygan Area Arts Council Mission Statement
The Mission of the Cheboygan Area Arts Council is to promote and encourage cultural and educational activities within the Straits Area of Northern Michigan, and to provide services that stimulate and encourage participation and appreciation of the arts within all segments of the community.
The Arts Council is headquartered at Cheboygan’s historic and beautifully restored Opera House in downtown Cheboygan.
The Cheboygan Opera House
History of the Opera House
The Opera House, originally constructed in 1877, played an important role in the history of the colorful lumbering era in Northern Michigan. Twice ravaged by fires and rebuilt in 1888 and 1903, the facility now harmoniously houses its original combination of City Hall, Police Department, Fire Department and the 582 seat Opera House.
In 1984, after having been closed for some twenty years, the elegantly restored Opera House re-opened its doors to the public once more. Managed by the Cheboygan Area Arts Council, with the support of The Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs, this acoustically superb, Victorian theatre has become the focal point for entertainment and the performing arts in the Straits of Mackinac area and beyond.
Since the Restoration
During the past 28 years the Arts Council and The Opera House have expanded their programming to provide a wide variety of arts and cultural experiences for the citizens of Northern Michigan. The Opera House has served as a presenting venue for many well known performers. Some of the many who have graced the stage in the last twenty-five years are: The Detroit Symphony Orchestra, John Hartford, Donnie and Marie Osmond, The Kingston Trio, Roger Miller, Florence Henderson, Ann Blyth, Bill Hayes and Susan Seaforth Hayes, Robin and Linda Thompson, Maxene Andrews of the Andrews Sisters, John Amos, Gary Burghoff, the Vienna Choir Boys, sixties rock and roll stars Del Shannon, Fabian and Bobby Vee, Jeff Daniels, the Four Freshmen and our 25th Anniversary concert by Garrison Keillor, and recently the Russian Ballet.
In addition to the wide variety of performances that are presented annually in The Opera House, the Cheboygan Area Arts Council also provides a variety of other cultural experiences. A diverse assortment of art and dance classes have been offered throughout the years and our audiences always look forward to the annual dance recital by our area students. Our yearly events for school children include “Access to Arts”, sponsored by Citizens National Bank, which provides a live musical production free of charge to over 3400 children each Spring. Opportunities for all northern Michigan children to perform on The Opera House stage are provided annually through our Youth Arts Festival, where area schools are invited to bring in their bands and choral groups for an evening each year. Parents and friends attend these performances at no charge. Another free program offered to Cheboygan schools each year is the invitation to each school to present their Spring Concert or Christmas play on our stage, with audience members again attending at no cost.
The Cheboygan Area Arts Council has had a strong focus on Arts in Education since its formation. To emphasize this goal they sponsor a Youth Arts Show each year for Cheboygan Area Schools for students in Kindergarten through High School. The Annual Arts Festival at the Cheboygan Ice Pavilion hosts artists from all over the state, giving them an opportunity to display and sell their creations. In order to support students in their pursuit of the arts, the Arts Council offers two scholarship programs. The Robert L. Moloney Scholarship was established to provide funds to assist students in grades 7 – 12, who wish to pursue programs in the area of dance, music, drama, voice and visual arts. The Arts Council’s Fine Arts Scholarship is awarded to a graduating senior who has been accepted full-time to an accredited college for the upcoming school year. It is available to a student pursuing a major in the Visual, Performing or Applied Arts.
Since the restoration of The Opera House the community has taken ownership of this beautiful Victorian building and the many programs that have been offered over the years. The goal has been realized: to establish an art center that would continue to serve future generations and enhance their lives through the arts. The citizens of northern Michigan should be extremely proud of their accomplishments and the effects that their efforts have had on the growth in their community. In every civilization worthy of its name, artistic activities have played a central role. For the past 28 years The Opera House, “The Leading Lady of the North,” has held this honor.
The Rivertown Follies
Established November 3, 1983 The Rivertown Follies, Inc. is a non-profit, tax exempt 501(c)3 organization whose purpose is to present annual follies stage productions and associated workshops for the enrichment of the community. Click on the image to see the Rivertown Follies Facebook Page.
The Northland Players
Ottawa Art Park
Recently, the Cheboygan Downtown Development Authority (DDA) partnered with the Cheboygan Area Arts Council in funding Ottawa Park – a hands on community art park. The park was once home to the Ottawa Hotel, which was deeded to the DDA. Attempts were made to sell the property, but to no avail. A beautification volunteer group “dressed” the lot by the planting of day lillies; however, the vacant lot remained empty.
In 2005, the Cheboygan Area Arts Council received a grant to fund an arts park on the property. This grant, along with the DDA’s commitment of providing the funding for the landscaping, has breathed new life into the vacant space within Downtown Cheboygan.