MSU’s Wharton Center Extends Reach

“As with most MSU partnerships, we don’t see our mission as geographically bound by the Michigan State campus,” says Mike Brand, executive director of Wharton Center.  “Although the majority of our time and attention remains focused on the MSU community and Greater Lansing region, our mission is to enrich lives and strengthen the value of the arts for the statewide community, and we view these partnerships as a significant step forward.”

Starting with the 2010-11 season, Wharton Center will book and contract the annual series for Broadway Grand Rapids, which presents and promotes touring Broadway productions at DeVos Performance Hall in Grand Rapids.

Additionally, Wharton Center staff will supervise show marketing and coordinate production needs. Prior to the agreement, Wharton Center was assisting the Broadway Grand Rapids staff with marketing for the 2009-10 Broadway series to help increase subscriptions and single-ticket sales.

“This partnership allows us to leverage Wharton Center’s long-standing relationships with key producers,” says Harvey Gainey, president of Broadway of Grand Rapids board of directors. “Not only will it lead to high-quality touring productions in West Michigan, but also more people coming to the theater and more economic impact for our region and our state.”

Under the three-year management agreement with the City Opera House LLC, in Traverse City, Wharton Center will coordinate the day-to-day operations of the historic City Opera House including facility management, booking and promoting performing artists and entertainers, and will serve as the rental agent for community events held at the facility. Wharton Center will work closely with the City Opera House board of directors and current staff. Details are still being finalized.

“The City Opera House board feels strongly that Wharton Center’s proven track record as a facility manager and leading presenter of live entertainment offers the community distinct advantages,” says Jeffry Corbin, vice chairman of the City Opera House board of directors. “We welcome the opportunity to partner with a dependable nonprofit entity we feel is aligned with our mission to serve the community in performing arts, education and economic development.

In addition to responsibilities outlined in the management agreements, Wharton Center will continue to expand its presence in both regions through its MSU Federal Credit Union Institute for Arts & Creativity.

Through collaborations with area organizations including Grand Rapids Civic Theatre, Dennos Museum, Interlochen Arts Academy, Old Town Playhouse, Traverse City Area Public Schools, and others, Wharton Center strives to enhance arts education and creativity throughout the state through participatory programs such as an annual artist residency with the internationally renowned Stratford Shakespeare Festival of Canada; Take It From The Top, a series of interactive workshops taught by Broadway professionals; and many other unique programs.

The mission of Michigan State University’s Wharton Center for Performing Arts is to enrich the lives of the MSU and statewide community, and strengthen the value of the arts in everyday life by serving as a leading resource for renowned arts entertainment and education programs.

Bob Hoffman is the public relations manager at the Wharton Center for Performing Arts.








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