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Inspire Campaign

Inspire Access to Arts and Innovation

We are delighted to share with you one of the most impressive efforts to take place in the Kalamazoo community in a very long time. This is an effort to transform and preserve a historic downtown landmark in service to Kalamazoo’s long-standing legacy of performing arts and innovative entrepreneurship.

Constructed in 1855, the building known as the First Baptist Church is the community’s oldest church building and has served as a catalyst in the evolving landscape of Kalamazoo. We believe this treasured downtown structure’s years of enriching lives are far from over.

Today, the Kalamazoo Nonprofit Advocacy Coalition (KNAC) owns the building thanks to the visionary gift of the First Baptist Church congregation. With the ambition to remove barriers for local start-ups and performing artists, particularly those that are BIPOC and women-led, KNAC provides affordable space for people to achieve their dreams. This model also enables KNAC to be self-sustaining.

KNAC historic photo
KNAC building today

To fully achieve the mission and vision of KNAC, we recently initiated the Inspire campaign. This $11-million plan will combine private donations and public funding to renovate the 30,000 square-foot building into a vibrant, collaborative setting for a constant flow of creative work and quality performance.

Once the renovations are complete, we envision:

  • A multi-venue performing arts center featuring a world-class, 450-seat performance hall.
  • Dynamic office and shared workspaces that will serve as incubators for small but growing arts and social justice nonprofits along with for-profit entrepreneurs and innovators.
  • Complete preservation of one of downtown Kalamazoo’s most historic and beautiful buildings.
Gilmore performance
Salty Owl felt artist working

KNAC needs your help to make this vision successful. A group of dedicated community leaders are working diligently to raise charitable gifts to make our dreams a reality.

As a result of our collective efforts, KNAC will provide a fully accessible space where leaders can be inspired to challenge our community to be its best. In its short life, KNAC has already inspired creators and arts patrons. With a successful capital campaign, we can magnify our impact on this great community for generations to come.


Please join us in supporting the Inspire campaign!


Ann Fergemann

Ann Fergemann, Campaign Co-Chair

Jeff Ross

Jeff K. Ross, Campaign Co-Chair

Inspire logo

Creating Opportunity, Preserving History

Since our inception in 2017, KNAC has worked to preserve the iconic First Baptist Church building in downtown Kalamazoo to provide affordable, collaborative workspace for nonprofits, artists, and start-ups.

Meeting the Challenge

Beyond immediate simple repairs, KNAC has identified a list of significant upgrades and renovations that are necessary to make the facility safe, efficient, and accessible. KNAC aims to develop environments that will inspire world-class performance and innovative discovery.

Spaces considered for upgrade:

  • Performance hall
  • Additional performance venues
  • Lobby
  • Bathrooms
  • Kitchen
  • Elevators
  • Co-working spaces
  • Exterior landscaping
Renovated Spaces