Great Lakes Center For The Arts
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The mission of the Great Lakes Center for the Arts is to inspire, entertain, and educate through year-round, world-class performances, 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 presents 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 the 2019-2020 year expanded 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.

Intensive opportunities that reached specific student groups with complimentary student tickets and/or educational components include these notable events: The Accidentals, Black Violin, Freedom Bound, Interlochen Swan Lake ballet, The Joffrey Ballet, Senator George Mitchell, Matthew Morrison, the Vienna Boys Choir, The Second City, among others.

To date, 21 organizations, 42 schools, and nearly 8,500 students from across the region experienced matinees, master classes, workshops, movies, and evening events all free of charge. The Center is looking forward to welcoming youth back through the doors for more exceptional, educational opportunities. Stay tuned for programming info about the next season of Next Gen!


Questions? Please contact:
Heather Russell
Education Director


Next-Gen Events

Charlotte's Web Virtual Event


The Next Gen program brought a virtual performance of Charlotte’s Web performed by TheaterWorks USA, to over 1,200 students in classrooms and living rooms throughout the United States. Presented online, students were immersed in live theater through the classic tale of selfless love and the true meaning of friendship.

Click Clack Moo


Over 1,000 kindergarten through second grade students enjoyed the musical Click Clack Moo, Cows That Type at the Center. Education Director Heather Russell visited all 17 attending schools in the week prior to read the Caldecott Award winning book and show students a now obsolete typewriter. 

Schools from Mackinaw City to Bellaire, Charlevoix to Inland Lakes and many in between were able to attend this Next Gen matinee offering free of charge, thanks to the generous family of donors who support the educational programming at the Center. One student gave the experience “10,000 thumbs up!” 

Lesson plans were provided to teachers that tied in with the state standards, and students learned about compromise and relationships in the “mooooving” and hilarious musical. 

McLean & Eakin Booksellers of Petoskey partnered with the Center to offer books for purchase to students, and several of their community patrons donated books which were given to every school.

Interlochen Ballet Sleeping Beauty


“I really liked the ballet because it was something that most of my students would never have had the opportunity to experience without your grant and program. I would love to have my students watch a musical also; our school no longer has a theater program.”

Walk On: The Story of Rosa Parks


Nearly 1,000 middle school students learned important lessons about the nation’s civil rights movement through the musical, Walk On: The Story of Rosa Parks, at the Center. On tour across the country, the musical depicted the early life of Rosa Parks to her stance on the bus leading to the Montgomery Bus Boycott, which set the wheels of change in motion for the United States. The show emphasized themes of diversity, understanding, and civil disobedience through song, acting, and story-telling.

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