“I feel like I’m living under a lucky star right now,” says Ann Arbor Art Center executive director Marsha Chamberlin. Like many nonprofits, the Art Center had a tough time last year–with income from its annual WineFest down two-thirds from its peak, it sold a building and cut staff to reduce costs. But since September, Chamberlin says, she’s seen a slow and steady uptick. The center just got a $10,000 grant to rebuild its website, and “our course registrations are astonishingly ahead of what we expected.”
And now she’s got a unique setting for this year’s WineFest on May 8 (see Events): the U-M’s North Campus Research Center, formerly Pfizer’s Ann Arbor laboratories. Horace Bomar, facilities director for the medical campus and a former Art Center board member, made the match, and Chamberlin is thrilled: “I’m like a lot of other people–I have gone to any number of charitable events that have been in a hotel ballroom,” she says. “We’re really excited to be out of the formulaic thing.” Last year’s WineFest netted $62,000; this year, she’s aiming for $70,000.