New Era of Cultural Programming

Christening the stage with Detroit Symphony Orchestra, a new northern Michigan arts center aims to bring world-class concerts and year-round performing arts to the Bay Harbor area.
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The Great Lakes Center for the Arts - InteriorChristening the stage with Detroit Symphony Orchestra, a new northern Michigan arts center aims to bring world-class concerts and year-round performing arts to the Bay Harbor area.

Great Lakes Center for the Arts opened this summer after a nearly 20-year community vision and $20-million capital campaign. Overlooking Little Traverse Bay, the center’s showpiece is an intimate 500-seat theater, with state-of-the-art features and acoustics to accommodate internationally acclaimed performers.

The Great Lakes Center for the Arts - Stage

“The center is really dedicated to affordable ticket pricing and being able to see a show for $20,” said Alexandra Myers, marketing manager. “We’re trying to make it a place people do see their friends or neighbors on stage, and we want it to feel like a place for everyone, but we also want to bring those world-class acts here.”

The venue will showcase diverse performances and cultural events among other things. The idea began in 1999 with a cultural plan for Emmet and Charlevoix counties and a communitywide vision for a new performing arts venue. The effort gained momentum when the Bay Harbor resort community added a theater to its master plan, leading to feasibility studies, two leadership gifts and a land donation by the developer. Private donations raised over $20 million.

The Great Lakes Center for the Arts
The Great Lakes Center for the Arts near the Lake Michigan shoreline is a venue for local, regional and internationally acclaimed performances.

The nonprofit arts center worked with theater designer Fisher Dachs Associates and architect TowerPinkster to design a facility that stands out as a cultural destination and an architectural landmark, said Executive Director Jill O’Neill. Founding Artistic Director Michael M. Kaiser, former president of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., acted as a consultant and lead strategist during the building of the center.

“The center is a destination for those excited by the performing arts, to gather and enjoy the artists, the setting and visiting with friends,” O’Neill said.

Renderings Courtesy Great Lakes Center for the Arts

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