Great Lakes Center For The Arts
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“Many of my students have little or no experiences with music, art, or theater. The only exposure they receive is through school. My students were able to experience an event (The Accidentals) that expanded their horizons, one that showed them new possibilities.” – Local 4th Grade Teacher

“Thank you so much for organizing the opportunity for our middle school students to experience the ballet in person in such a beautiful venue. We were AMAZED! It was my first time there AND my first time seeing a live ballet, and I couldn’t have been more pleased. The details were very well organized, and we enjoyed the special lessons plans for preparing for the ballet.” – Local 6th Grade Teacher

The mission of the Great Lakes Center for the Arts is to inspire, entertain, and educate through year-round, world-class programming, affordable ticket pricing, and a robust education program.

The Center offers broad experiences and school matinees that reach many students across the region, as well as intensive opportunities that reach specific student groups. Area youth interact with and learn from world-class artists while cultivating a stronger appreciation for the performing arts. Thanks to the generous support of our Family of Donors and a grant from the State of Michigan, student performances are offered free of charge.

The GLCFA strives to present opportunities for students at all grade levels, pre-kindergarten through high school, across many genres. Working with a team of certified teachers, the Center staff aligns its events with the Michigan Standards and Curriculum. In the 2018-2019 academic year, events focused on literature, history/government, dance, and music, and in the 2019-2020 year will expand to also include science. Teachers are provided with pre- and post-lesson plans to use in their classrooms to optimize learning and enhance the theater-going experience for students.

Notable events with limited complimentary student tickets and/or educational components from 2018-2019: The Accidentals, Black Violin, Freedom Bound, Interlochen Swan Lake ballet, The Joffrey, Senator George Mitchell, Matthew Morrison, the Vienna Boys Choir, among others.

2020 Winter Events

Click Clack Moo

Click Clack Moo
K to 2nd grades, communication, family & relationships, music

January 31 9:30AM | 1:00PM

“Cows that type?  Hens on strike! Whoever heard of such a thing!” Farmer Brown cries.

When his granddaughter Jenny comes for a visit, Farmer Brown declares the farm a tech-free zone. He takes her laptop in the cold barn with the shivering cows who use her computer to type messages requesting blankets.

“No way,” replies Farmer Brown. “No blankets!”

So the cows go on strike and the chickens join them in solidarity. No blankets? No milk! No eggs!

Will Farmer Brown give in to the animals’ demands? Will Jenny get her computer back? Find out in a hilariously moving musical about negotiation and compromise, based on the Caldecott Honor Book by Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewin.


Walk On: The Story of Rosa Parks
7th & 8th grades, history
February 21 10:00AM | 1:00PM
The tremors of an earthquake were rumbling across America. A new kind of music was making its first appearance on the radio and parents were outraged. While the rhythms of rock and roll were shaking the social fabric of the country, deep down an even more important transformation was about to take place. In Montgomery, Alabama, a determined activist named Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a city bus. The resulting uproar launched the Civil Rights movement and changed our country forever. Walk On: The Story of Rosa Parks weaves together music and drama to tell the story of Rosa Parks from her childhood in rural Alabama to her famous decision to “sit down and be counted.” The play dispels myths about Parks and her protest as it paints a portrait of a complex woman who had to find reconciliation within herself in order to become an effective Civil Right leader. Exciting and inspirational, Walk On: The Story of Rosa Parks shows how the determination of one individual made all the difference in the struggle for freedom and equality in the United States.

“A glimpse into the past, into our souls, with wit and genuine American ingenuity.” -The Annenberg Center, Philadelphia, PA

“Consistent quality of productions and integrity of theme and presentation.” -Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C.

Interlochen Ballet Sleeping Beauty
6th grade, literature, and dance

February 28 12:30PM

Interlochen Arts Academy’s dance students present the classic tale of a princess cursed to slumber for 100 years. Accompanied by Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s beloved score, the company will stage a ballet based on Marius Petipa’s original choreography.


To book your next educational visit to the Center, use the buttons above to register. To learn more, contact Heather Russell, Education Director, at or 231.439.2604. 


How much does it cost to attend a matinee at the Center?

Nothing! We are thrilled to offer educational events free of charge to schools thanks to our generous family of donors, endowments, foundation grants, and the State of Michigan. That said, we very much appreciate feedback through emails, cards, notes, etc. which helps with grant reports and aids in securing additional funding for future programs.

What about bussing?

The Center can reimburse your school district for the cost of the busses. Please email an invoice to

How many events may we attend during the year?

There is no limit; however, we strive to fulfill requests and provide experiences to as many schools/students from across Northern Michigan as possible.

How many chaperones do we need?

We kindly ask that you provide 1 adult per 20 students. These may be teachers, administrators, health care aides, drivers. For schools seated in the upper-level boxes, one adult must be present for every 5-7 students (one adult per box). The Center will also try to fill this role using our volunteer team.

How do we make a reservation?

The best way to reserve your space is to fill out the form above. Please be as accurate with your numbers as possible. We will hold back a few seats, should your numbers change. You may also contact Heather Russell, Education Director, via email at or by phone at 231.439.2604.

Are lesson plans provided?

Yes! The Center’s Teacher Advisory Committee (comprised of teachers from four area school districts) creates lesson plans that correspond with the state curricula. All materials will be classroom-ready (but also adaptable) for you to use at your discretion. We encourage teachers to use the pre- and post-event lesson plans to maximize students’ learning and enhance their overall experience at the Center.

What is the cancellation policy?

There is no cost, and therefore no deposit required. We ask that you please be respectful of other schools and let the Center know as soon as possible if your plans or the total number of students/adults changes. Often there is a waiting list for educational events, and we would like to ensure a full house to take full advantage of the performing arts opportunities.

Will more events be added during the year?

Currently, the calendar is set, but there are other educational opportunities through our regular season evening events.

Is photography allowed?

It depends on the artists’ contracts and will be announced from the stage at the start of the show. GLCFA reserves the right to take pictures, post to social media, use in our publications and the like. Students’ names will not be included.

How early should we arrive at the Center prior to the show?

Please arrive 15-20 minutes before the start of the program. Any earlier…you’re responsible for the “antsy pants.” In the days leading up to the event, rows/seats will be assigned to schools (not individuals) and communicated via email.

Will we be back in time for lunch/afternoon bus runs?

The length of the event will be communicated ahead of time so you can plan accordingly. Generally speaking, morning shows will end around 11:15; afternoon show will conclude no later than 2:30.

What if there is a snow day?

Center staff will watch for school closings on local tv stations but calls and/or emails would also be appreciated. Conversely, if the Center needs to cancel an event due to inclement weather, staff will send out an email to the contact person from each school as early as possible. School personnel is also welcome to contact Heather Russell, Education Director, via email at or by calling 231-439-2604.

Can you accommodate a child with special needs?

We will do our best to accommodate all students. Please let us know ahead of time if you have students with special needs (wheelchair, aisle seat to be able to leave if needed, etc.)


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