From patio nights to outdoor concerts, Flint Cultural Center has something fun for everyone in July

FLINT, Michigan — Summer is here! Time for patio hangouts, live outdoor music, picnics in the park, and on the hottest days, seeking out ways to stay cool indoors. The Flint Cultural Center has plenty of fun museums, theaters, and local venues to keep people educated and entertained all year round. 

Here are some family-friendly programs and ‘date night’ events to enjoy at the Sloan Museum of Discovery and Longway Planetarium, the Flint Institute of Arts, the Flint Institute of Music, and the Gloria Coles Flint Public Library this July. 

Flint Institute of Arts outdoor patio nights and extended museum hours

Kicking off on July 12, the Flint Institute of Arts Museum + Art School moves its ‘Late Nights at the FIA’ programming to Friday from Thursday. In conjunction with Patio Night, the museum invites the public to enjoy an evening of free live music, food, and drinks al fresco each week. They can also visit the museum after its regular hours to browse the galleries and exhibitions, too. The Friday Patio Nights at the FIA run from July to August from 5 to 8 p.m. 

Phillip Krapohl is the marketing communications manager at the FIA and works to bring the community together through fun and engaging endeavors. In an effort to bring the arts to more residents outside of daytime museum hours, the patio night series has been going on for a few years. 

“We’re happy to bring patio night back to the FIA and we’re really excited by this year’s lineup,” says Krapohl. “It’s an al fresco evening of live music, food and drink specials, and a terrific ambiance out in the open air. We welcome the community to come join the FIA outside on our patio. People can arrive early for a seat on the patio or can bring a chair or blanket to lounge out on the lawn and watch live music. It’s a great way to start the weekend.”

The Flint Institute of Arts Museum + Art School's Patio Night.
July’s musical lineup includes Julie Hugunin Band on July 12, The North Oakland County Dixieland Band on July 19, and Bianca ‘Teddi B’ Thorn and Feimstro on July 26. Food and drinks are available for purchase at 5 p.m., and live music runs from 6 to 7:30 p.m. In case of bad weather, the outdoor patio night moves indoors to Isabel Hall.

The series is in partnership with the Flint Institute of Music, helping to create a ‘synergy’ within the Flint Cultural Center Corridor, says Krapohl. He says the community response to the weekly event series has brought about a good turnout. To provide the opportunity for even more residents to engage with art, the museum is also open to 8 p.m. on patio nights.

The FIA is the only center within the Flint Cultural Center campus that’s open on Mondays. To celebrate that, there’s also a new summer feature at the FIA. Funday Mondays is a free weekly art-making workshop designed for kids that runs through July 29. 

The Flint Institute of Arts Museum + Art School's Funday Monday art-making workshop.
“Every Monday from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., and again from 2:30 to 4 p.m., we’re offering all-ages art-making workshops. The themes are going to be different from one week to the next,” says Krapohl. 

Genesee County residents receive free admission to the FIA, made possible by the Genesee County Arts Education and Cultural Enrichment Millage. 

Sloan Museum of Discovery and Longway Planetarium classes and movies

If you haven’t ventured over to the Sloan Museum of Discovery in the past two years, you’ve been missing out. The 107,000-square-foot museum opened in 2022 and experienced a major facelift, expanding from a history museum to an interactive, hands-on science and history center with five different galleries. The museum is located near the Longway Planetarium, Michigan's largest and most advanced planetarium facility. 

Anne Mancour, marketing manager for Sloan Museum of Discovery and Longway Planetarium, says the two spaces saw over 272,000 visitors last year. That includes 54,000 students on field trips and with educational groups, engaging in STEM activities. During the summer, the Sloan Museum of Discovery offers students various summer camps and workshops for four-year-olds to high schoolers, running from June to August. 

At Longway Planetarium, Mancour says there are a few new movies this summer, including Cosmic Colors and Legend of the Enchanted Reef,” an animated movie about the environment. 

Inside the Longway Planetarium.
“All together, we have six regular movies running live on the dome, plus live presentations,” she says. “One of the things that’s really popular is the images coming out of the new James Webb space telescope that was launched a year and a half ago. The telescope is starting to send images back from space in ways that scientists have never been able to see before.”

Mancour encourages families and adults alike to make it a day to visit the different buildings in the Flint Cultural Center. The indoor museums also make a cool escape from outdoor heat advisories, all while being affordable.

“Many people hesitate to come to the museum because it’s brand new and they think it’s expensive to visit but it’s actually free admission for Genesee County residents,” she says. “Outside of the county, it’s $14 per adult and $11 for kids.”

Flint Institute of Music + Gloria Coles Flint Public Library programming

A multi-disciplinary performing arts organization, the Flint Institute of Music, reaches over 300,000 people through education, outreach, concerts, and other community programming throughout the year. They offer many entertainment events including the Flint Symphony Orchestra, Flint Repertory Theatre, series at the Whiting Auditorium, and Capitol Theatre.  

The FIM is hosting Tuesday Tunes at the Gloria Coles Flint Public Library from 6 to 7:30 p.m., featuring different musical genres each week. The free outdoor concert series kicks off on July 9 and runs every other week through August. The lineup includes Opera at the Library on July 9 and Early 20th Century Jazz and Blues with Erik McIntyre on July 23.

The Flint Institute of Arts Museum + Art School's Funday Monday art-making workshop. They’re also hosting a Meet Up and Eat Up event at the library every day from noon to 1 p.m., in partnership with the Food Bank of Southeastern Michigan. Each week is a different theme with coordinating activities and lunch outside of the Whiting Auditorium, at the green space in Durant Plaza. The series kicked off on June 24 and runs Monday through Thursday through August. Children 18 and under can receive free food and snacks. 

Amanda Sauvie, manager of community programming at FIM, says providing a wide range of programming to the community is at the heart of the organization’s mission. 

“FIM is for all of Flint and Genesee County,” says Sauvie. “We want people to have access to the arts, music, and entertainment. We know just how important it is and what quality it adds to people’s lives to be able to enjoy these kinds of events together as community members. It’s important to be out in the beautiful summer sunshine and have companionship and connection with others in your community. Arts, culture, and music are beautiful things to bring people together and to create and feed that community.”

Off-campus, the FIM is hosting a summer slasher movie series at the Capitol Theatre kicking off July 25 with “A Nightmare on Elm Street.” This series is in addition to other cult classic movie showings and concerts throughout the entire season. 
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Read more articles by Sarah Spohn.