Mott Foundation grants $1.25 million to the Greater Flint Arts Council for renovations

The façade and side of the Greater Flint Arts Council building with the Vernors mural painted on its left wall.
With support from the community, the Greater Flint Arts Council purchased its building in 1996 to save the Vernors mural after the structure was scheduled to be torn down due to fire damage. The building became home to the organization in 1998 after renovations to the first floor were completed. Photo: Cristina Wright

Flint, Michigan – Renovations to the Greater Flint Arts Council’s building in downtown Flint will begin this fall. The improvements will create more space for community members to use and for local artists to convene and showcase their work.

The Charles Stewart Mott Foundation granted $1.25 million to support substantial renovations and upgrades to the three-story building, which is located at 816 Saginaw St.

All GFAC programs and services currently take place on the first floor, which includes a gallery, a small stage for performances and administrative offices. Through this project, GFAC will renovate all three floors in order to better serve the creative community. The renovations also will increase accessibility and improve safety in the building.

The second floor interior of the Greater Flint Arts Council building shows burn marks from it's previous fire.
After the adjoining two-story portion of the Peerless Furniture Building caught fire, there was a lot of smoke and water damage to the second floor of GFAC’s current building. But once renovated, the second floor will house offices, a conference room and other community space. Photo: Cristina Wright

“We are very excited to complete this project, which began 27 years ago when the Greater Flint Arts Council adopted the Peerless Furniture Building to save the famous Vernors mural and create our first permanent home,” said Greg Fiedler, GFAC president and CEO. “This expansion will allow us to better advance the careers of our local performing artists and local event promoters by providing affordable space to bring their work to the public. It will also allow us to better serve visual artists by expanding flexible space for special projects.”

GFAC has thus far raised roughly $1.8 million of more than $2 million needed for project. Renovations on the first floor will include installation of a passenger elevator, updates to the gallery space and performance stage, and improvements to the entrances. The second floor will become the administrative hub for GFAC, with offices for staff and a publicly available conference room. The third floor will be renovated as a flexible performing arts and public meeting space.

The third floor interior of the Greater Flint Arts Council building shows burn marks from it's previous fire.
During the fire nearly three decades ago, the third floor suffered minor water damage. Once renovations are complete, the floor will house a theater with a stage, as well as dance and theater rehearsal space. Photo: Cristina Wright

GFAC opened its offices and gallery on the first floor of the building in 1998. Over the years, the storefront space on Saginaw Street has attracted diverse crowds for gallery shows, performances and meetings. In 2022 alone, the organization brought more than 270,000 people downtown for a variety of festivals and events. Each year, GFAC provides support to hundreds of visual artists and musicians, as well as multiple groups and organizations.

“The Greater Flint Arts Council has done a great job of bringing together local artists to celebrate community, diversity and culture. Through Second Friday Artwalk, Jazz Fest, What’s Up Downtown and more, GFAC engages people of all ages with fun and welcoming activities, programming and events,” said Ridgway White, president and CEO of the Mott Foundation. “We’re happy to support renovations that will offer more space for the community to gather, learn and enjoy the arts.”

For more information on GFAC and upcoming events, visit GFAC does not anticipate having to close during renovations but will update the community via its website or Facebook page if plans change.