Great Lakes Center For The Arts
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2018 Premiere Summer Season Programming announced July 2017!

When the curtain goes up in July 2018 at the Great Lakes Center for the Arts, a new world-class performing arts experience will take center stage in Northern Michigan. The Center’s state-of-the-art 500-seat theater, located on the pristine shores of Lake Michigan in the Petoskey community of Bay Harbor, will offer a year-round line-up of performances across all genres: music, dance, theater, movies and film, intellectual dialogue and education.

Located nearby to the quaint and welcoming communities of Petoskey, Harbor Springs, Boyne City and Charlevoix, the Center’s design elements reflect the beauty found in the natural environment around Northwest Michigan. Steps away from the lobby entrance is Bay Harbor Lake Marina and the Village shopping and dining district, which is undergoing a renaissance of its own.

“With a mission to serve as a cultural and social hub for Northern Michigan, the Center will feature year-round, compelling performances with virtually limitless possibilities to inspire, entertain, and educate through the performing arts,” said Executive Director Jill O’Neill.

In addition to the theater and its diverse performances, the Center will house a community engagement room for education and receptions, a rooftop deck and donor lounge, among other amenities.

“The Center will be a regional, national and international destination for the cultural arts, intellectual dialogue and impactful arts education programs,” said Michael M. Kaiser, Chairman of the DeVos Institute of Arts Management in Washington, D.C. and President Emeritus of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Mr. Kaiser is serving as Lead Strategy Consultant and Founding Artistic Director for the Center. “Programming will be year-round and include popular, classical, jazz and country music performances, theatrical productions, music festivals, opera, dance, lectures and children’s series.”

Construction of this bright new star in the constellation of Michigan’s arts and cultures venues is well under way (click here for up-to-date construction photos). Groundbreaking took place on July 2, 2016, with Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder attending alongside more than 400 civic, government and community leaders.

Grand Opening is July 2018, with a star-studded line up scheduled to launch the inaugural season; 2018 Premiere Summer Season programming will be announced in July 2017.

Claudette Donlon is the expert behind negotiating contracts with performers, and she is busy finalizing the diverse slate of events for the Premiere Summer Season. Ms. Donlon is the Chief Operating Officer and Senior Consultant at the Devos Institute of Arts Management, and a consultant to the Great Lakes Center for the Arts.

“This is really going to be a phenomenal, exciting inaugural season,” said Ms. Donlon. “I think the Northern Michigan community is going to be very excited to be a part of it.”

In July 2017, the Center will also announce its inaugural summer season subscription series for those who would like to subscribe to multiple performances at a discounted rate. Details about programming and subscriptions will be available mid-July on the Center’s web site:

About the Great Lakes Center for the Arts

The Great Lakes Center for the Arts is a 501(c)3 charitable organization with an independent Board of Directors led by Chair Kathy Oswald and Founding Chair David V. Johnson. The Board is comprised of regional and national business, civic and philanthropic leaders who collectively bring extensive board, non-profit and financial experience, as well as a passion for the arts, education and the Northern Michigan Region.

Staff leadership includes Jill O’Neill, Executive Director, a classically trained musician with 20 years in financial and executive management roles. Maris Harrington, Director of Development, is also a classically trained musician who joined the team in 2016; she has more than 20 years of international experience in development, communications, marketing and education. Marketing Director Beth Anne Eckerle brings a background as an award-winning writer and journalist skilled in graphic design, photography, social media and online management. 

Capital campaign support opportunities include box seats and a seat naming campaign. Please visit the Center’s web site at for more information about programming, construction of the Center and how to join the family of supporters. Register for regular e-news updates on the home page as well.

For more information, please call (231) 439-2600 or email

Dark-sky friendly

Did you know that the Great Lakes Center for the Arts is located along one of the most special stretches of the state’s coastline known as Michigan’s Dark Sky Coast? In 2012, Governor Rick Snyder signed legislation protecting over 22,000 acres of land along Emmet County’s Lake Michigan shoreline from the effects of light pollution – most prominent among them the loss of the view of the undiluted night sky that so many treasure Up North.

The Center is doing its part to protect this star of Northern Michigan by using dark-sky compliant LED light fixtures that direct light downward instead of shining it needlessly up into the night sky. This provides ample lighting for safely navigating the Center’s exterior grounds while not wasting light, in dollars and sense.

Boaters, welcome!

Traveling to a world-class performing arts center by boat is a special experience not found in many communities around Michigan, or the United States. In the fresh water-focused Great Lakes region of Northern Michigan, the newest performing arts venue – the Great Lakes Center for the Arts, opening in summer of 2018 – will offer boaters the chance to tie up dockside, stroll shops and restaurants and take in a show in one of Michigan’s most picturesque lakeside communities.

Of course, travelers arriving in all types of vehicles, by water or road, are welcome to the shores of Little Traverse Bay to enjoy performances in the state-of-the-art 500-seat theater, located steps away from Bay Harbor Lake Marina and nearby to the communities of Petoskey, Harbor Springs, Boyne City and Charlevoix.




  • Theater
  • Dance
  • Music
  • Intellectual Dialogue
  • Movies & Film
  • Education