[note] Much thanks to Jill Perney of Fontana Chamber Arts for putting this awesome list together of all of the great arts-related activities and events in Kalamazoo this summer. There are a number of hidden gems on this list! Thanks also to Fontana Chamber Arts and the Crybaby Concert Series for being a sponsor of KZOOkids.com. [/note]

 by guest contributor, Jill Perney, General Manager at Fontana Chamber Arts




We are so lucky to live in a community that values and supports the arts on such a high level. Not only do we as adults have countless options to attend and support, but we have just as many amazing opportunities to have artistic experiences with our children. As the mother of a two and a half year old, I greatly appreciate this about our community… I hope you do, too!

Here are just a few of the great activities for your children and yourselves over the next few months! Some of these options are also featured in the KZOOkids.com Summer Camp Guide, so be sure to check that out too!

Fontana presents Crybaby Concerts

Fontana, a non-profit music organization in Kalamazoo that presents classical chamber music and jazz concerts during the year, and a Summer Festival every July, has a great program for families with young children. Crybaby Concerts are held throughout the year in various locations, and are FREE 45-minute mini-concerts that give children under the age of five and their family a performance of beautiful music in an open & flexible environment. Nutritious, kid-friendly snacks are provided after each performance.

Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra

During June and July the Symphony will take their Instrument Petting Zoo to several outdoor festivals. The Instrument Petting Zoo gives children the opportunity to handle and play many instruments of the orchestra .

The Petting Zoo will be at:

The KSO also has a great program called Music & Make Believe which is held at libraries around the city, and features stories, activities, and music. That program will resume in the fall, so be sure to check out their website or follow them on social media.

The Gilmore

Though the Gilmore Festival is over now, there are still some interesting opportunities to be had!  The Gilmore offers a Piano Camp every summer for 7-13 year olds. Held at the Sherman Lake YMCA Camp, it features an integrated curriculum of music, drama, art, nature and water sports. Recitals by guest artists and faculty are held throughout the week, and Camp ends with a final recital by all the campers.

The cost is $385, and registration is online now. Click here for more information.

Crescendo Music  Academy

Crescendo is a great place for all sorts of musical adventures!  In addition to offering music lessons, they also have some great summer programs including:

  • Orff Studio Summer Camp–for children in 3rd grade and up, they will learn Orff Studio instrumentation like xylophones, conga drums, and other percussion, and will work to turn a popular children’s book into a musical – creating the music, acting out the story, singing the songs, dancing and playing instruments. Running from late July–early August in the mornings.
  • Music Togethergreat early childhood music program for children and their accompanying adults. The class uses a national curriculum, and focuses on music making in a relaxed, playful environment. Speaking from experience, these classes are so wonderful, and the teacher, Miss Cathi, is the best! The Summer session starts June 16 and runs 8 weeks for $120.
  • Also, be sure to check out all Crescendo in the Summer Camp Guide for KZOOkids.com.

Arts Council of Greater Kalamazoo

Once again, the Arts Council will be producing their wonderful Concerts in the Park series!  This year the series will feature groups like the Kalamazoo Concert Band, Schlitz Creek (bluegrass), Lake Effect Jazz Big Band, and The Verve Pipe. Concerts are free and run from June 8–August 24.

New this summer, the Arts Council is teaming up with Fontana and the City of Kalamazoo to present a Third Thursday Jazz series. Held on the third Thursday of the month (June – August) in Bronson Park, these free concerts will feature great jazz and a beer garden with local brews and delicious food.

Kalamazoo Institute of Arts

In addition to the amazing Art Fair in Bronson Park June 6-7, the KIA also is home to The Upjohn Mason Grandchildren Interactive Gallery. Located off the lower level galleries, the Interactive Gallery has a variety of games, puzzles and activities for kids to enjoy.

Also be sure to check out the Summer Camp Guide for great camps and art classes for all ages this summer at the KIA.

Kalamazoo Valley Museum

In addition to great activities and exhibits the KVM usually has, they have the following arts option for this summer:

  • Summer Hands-On Happenings: Draw Me a Story –held on July 9, from 1-4 pm At this free event, kids can tell their story by creating a message on a thought bubble dry erase magnet or putting together a journal. They can experiment with cartooning using a bendable figure, create their own cartoon strip, and more.

 Kalamazoo Books Arts Center

A hidden gem here in Kalamazoo, the Kalamazoo Book Arts Center was founded in 2005 with a vision of creating a public space where artists and book enthusiast can gather to collaborate and celebrate books and the many arts that inform them, such as papermaking, creating writing, and book binding.

This summer the KBAC is offering great Kids and Family workshops. Held on Tuesdays from 2-4 pm, each workshop costs $25, and parents are encouraged to participate as well. Workshops include projects like making shaving cream marbled paper, creating pop-up books, building sound books with electronic recording devices, paper making, and more. Some classes are age 6 and up, and most are age 8 and up.

Wellspring/Cori Terry & Dancers

Founded in 1980, Wellspring/Cori Terry & Dancers is Kalamazoo’s own professional modern dance company. In addition to their normal performances, Wellspring offers a range of classes for all ages and abilities. For children, Wellspring offers a Summer Dance Camp. Split into groups for ages 3-7 and 8-11, campers learn dances, make music, play games, and perform for family at friends at the end of the week. Camp lasts for one week (July 7-11) – 9 am – 12 noon, and is $140. Registration includes a daily snack and a t-shirt.

Kalamazoo Civic Theater

Of course we can’t forget our very own Kalamazoo Civic Theater! The Civic offers a range of classes for children as young as 3. The First Stage classes are for ages 3-5, and help children explore their creativity and learn about communicating their ideas and listening to others. The classes run for 5 weeks starting in July, and a caregiver needs to attend. Classes are $12 each or $50 for all five.

The Civic also offers the Build Foundations classes, which are for ages 6-8, and help children learn about how to work with others while still being true to their own ideas.  Build Foundations is structured as 9 separate 1 week sessions, each of which is $80. Check out their website for more details about each week.

Also, be sure to check out the KZOOkids Summer Camp Guide for more information.

Center Stage Theater at the Comstock Community Auditorium

With a standing tradition of presenting family friendly musicals in the summer, the Center State Theatre in Comstock will run a production of Shrek the Musical on July 18-26. Tickets are $12 for adults and $10 for children.

Playcare Theater Program by Fancy Pants

Fancy Pants Theater is taking over the YDC every Saturday this spring with theatrical classes for every age and experience level.  From simply exploring a hidden talent to learning Shakespeare – we’ve got a class for you!  All classes are taught by Executive Director Carol Zombro with the help of some of her Fancy friends. Email fancypantsplaycare@gmail.com for more information.

  • 10-11:45 am- Exploring Pretend Play.  A specially crafted class for ages 3-6, focused on movement, role playing and creativity using the one tool all children have mastered: imagination!
  • 1-3 pm- Theater 101 for Kids.  Elementary and Middle School-aged children interested in acting are encouraged to attend our drop-in theater class.  With a focus on projection, theater etiquette and improv, there will be something new to learn each class.
  • 4-6 pm-Beginning Shakespeare.  This class is suggested for children 10-17, however, we have found a love and appreciation of William Shakespeare’s works can be found in children of all ages!  Therefore, special cases may be made for children under the age of 10 by emailing: fancypantsplaycare@gmail.com.

For youth ages 3-17 at the Youth Development Center   230 E. Crosstown Parkway on Saturdays in June 14, 21, 28 and in July 12, 19, 26. The cost $10 per class, $5 dollars for each additional sibling. Payment taken on site at YDC.

Jill-and-Bridget-180x180Jill Perney is General Manager at Fontana, where she works on marketing, ticketing, and fundraising for the organization. She is also mother to a 2 ½ year old daughter, and enjoys cooking, knitting, music, and travel.

By | 2014-06-18T09:56:15+00:00 June 8th, 2014|Categories: Around Kalamazoo, Learn, Newly Published|2 Comments

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  1. Nancy Klee June 13, 2014 at 8:09 am

    I am hoping that you sometimes republish with additions. Here are a few other happenings I am looking at or participating with for my 5 year old, almost K , son. Playcare at Kalamazoo youth development most Saturdays through July. It’s drop-in, $10 for two hours, which works better with our summer schedule and my kid returns home excited and tired! You can find out more via http://www.fantcypantstheater.webs.com or by contacting the director, Carol Zombro, at fancypantsplaycare@gmail.com. Crawspace is offering what is sure to be a great summer camp for kids 4-6 who are interested in acting and having fun. There is a morning class and an afternoon class the week of July 21 at a downtown church. For more information email tarasytsma@gmail.com. So those are my off th beaten path, but sure-to-be-fun, additions. Happy summer everyone!

    • Jill P June 13, 2014 at 8:15 am

      Great ideas Nancy! I’ll add these next week and redistribute on Facebook. Thanks for sharing.

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