MSUToday
Published: Oct. 8, 2009

MSU’s Wharton Center to partner with Broadway Grand Rapids

Contact(s): Kristen Parker Media Communications office: (517) 353-8942 cell: (517) 980-0709 Kristen.Parker@cabs.msu.edu, Kent Love-Ramirez MSU College of Law office: (517) 432-6959 kent.love@law.msu.edu

EAST LANSING, Mich. — Michigan State University’s Wharton Center for Performing Arts has partnered with Broadway Grand Rapids, a move designed to bring the best of Broadway and arts education programs to West Michigan.

Wharton Center has signed a management agreement to coordinate the day-to-day operations of the 21-year-old organization, which presents and promotes touring Broadway productions at DeVos Performance Hall in Grand Rapids. Starting with the 2010-11 season, Wharton Center will book and contract the annual Broadway series, supervise show marketing, coordinate production needs and present arts education programs through its MSU Federal Credit Union Institute for Arts and Creativity.

“Wharton Center’s mission is to serve as a leading resource for renowned arts entertainment and education programs,” said Mike Brand, executive director of Wharton Center. “This partnership will deepen our relationship with the West Michigan community and further position Wharton Center and MSU as a leading resource for performing arts entertainment and education programs.”

Prior to the agreement, Wharton Center staff was assisting Broadway Grand Rapids with marketing for the 2009-10 Broadway series to help increase subscriptions and single-ticket sales, Brand said.

The current staff and board of directors of Broadway Grand Rapids will remain to work closely with the Wharton Center team.

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

In addition to managing the Broadway series, Wharton Center’s MSU Federal Credit Union Institute for Arts and Creativity, in its second year, will engage the West Michigan community with arts education programs such as artist residency workshops and possible pilot partnerships with schools.

“There is clearly a need to expand arts education in our state, and the institute welcomes the opportunity to use its resources to integrate the arts and academics for a statewide audience,” Brand said. “We look forward to partnering with educators and residents in West Michigan to provide meaningful, participatory arts education programs.”

MSU continues to strengthen its educational and community partnerships in West Michigan:

  • The College of Human Medicine, which enrolled its first class of medical students in downtown Grand Rapids in fall 2008, will open the Secchia Center in summer 2010.
  • MSU operates the W.K. Kellogg Biological Station northeast of Kalamazoo, an inland field station that develops programs in research, education and extension to understand natural and managed ecosystems and the conservation of natural resources.
  • In Holland, the MSU Bioeconomy Institute serves as a business incubator and research center concentrated on biomaterials, specialty chemicals and biofuels.

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