Event Calendar

A Place to Engage with the Arts

For more than thirty years, Wharton Center for Performing Arts has been in the business of changing lives. Founded in the belief that the arts are a powerful force for exploring our common humanity and embracing cultural, economic, geographic, and social differences, Wharton Center fosters mutual understanding and insight into our place in society so we can contribute to the world in which we live.

In addition to presenting world-class artists, Wharton Center acts as a catalyst for creativity in mid-Michigan and beyond. The campaign will support our work to cultivate the next generation of creative, innovative thinkers through arts education.

To become a center whose financial sustainability rises to the level of our programs, we are seeking over $20 million in the Empower Extraordinary Campaign. We will achieve this goal with a mix of endowment/facility gifts and annual funds.


  • Wharton Center enhances your quality of life by presenting meaningful performances as well as participatory lifelong learning programs throughout the state of Michigan
  • Wharton Center is the largest performing arts center in Michigan and the leading presenting venue among Big Ten institutions.
  • Annually, we rank by attendance in the top 50 of performing arts venues in the country with seating capacity of 2,500 seats or less.
  • Ticket sales cover 50-60% of our operating costs.  Our growth and stability is dependent on private support.
  • The Institute integrates Wharton Center’s educational programs into a K-12 curriculum reaching more than 30,000 children each year.
  • Many of the Institute’s programs have no revenue source and are funded exclusively through private support.
  • 15% of the participants in the Institute’s fee-based programs attend on free, scholarship subsidy, made possible through private support.
  • Wharton Center partners with colleges and programs across MSU to integrate the arts and the values they foster—creativity and collaboration—into academic disciplines such as business, literature, medicine, music, and theater.
  • Wharton Center serves as an economic engine for mid-Michigan, generating some $25 million annually for local businesses.

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A Vibrant Community: $13 million goal

Wharton Center enriches the Michigan community culturally and economically, helping us prosper as a great place to live, work, and play. The performances we present—music, theater, dance— gather people from all walks of life together as a collective audience, fostering mutual understanding and appreciation of different points of view. We learn about ourselves and our neighbors; we are moved to tears of sadness and joy; we recognize our diversity— in Michigan, in the country, and in the world—for the strength that it is.  Wharton Center is truly a place to see the community come together and enjoy the powerful synergy that the performing arts offer between artists, patrons, staff, and volunteers.  

A Force For Creativity, Discovery and Teaching: $6.5 million goal

Creativity at Wharton Center is defined by how we collaborate with the many world-renowned performers who grace our stages in artistic discovery and education. Our performers serve as teaching artists in classrooms, as champions of the creative process, and as innovative partners in the co-creation of new work and new ways of expressing ourselves and the world in which we live. This kind of creative thought and expression happens in all of the venues managed by Wharton Center on the campus of MSU and in communities throughout the state.

An Engine of Opportunity: $650,000 goal

The power of the arts to change lives is limited only by the opportunity to engage with them. The arts have the power to teach, to inspire, to unify, and truly transform individuals of all ages and backgrounds. Time and time again, research shows that young people who are engaged in the arts achieve more in school and become involved in their communities. Wharton Center is dedicated to making the performing arts accessible to audiences and students of all ages and economic means.


To learn more about Wharton Center’s opportunity for support visit: go.msu.edu/whartoncampaignweb

For additional information about the Empower Extraordinary campaign for Michigan State University please visit: empower.msu.edu

Read more about the Wharton Center for Performing Art’s priorities. (PDF 1.4MB)



Doug Miller
Wharton Center for Performing Arts
Advancement Office
750 E. Shaw Lane, Ste. 308
East Lansing, MI 48824
Phone: (517) 884-3112
email: [email protected]

Kristen Calabrese
Wharton Center for Performing Arts
Advancement Office
750 E. Shaw Lane, Ste. 308
East Lansing, MI 48824
Phone: (517) 884-3140
email: [email protected]

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  • Wharton Center for Performing Arts
  • Michigan State University
  • 750 E. Shaw LN
  • East Lansing, MI
  • PHONE: (517) 432-2000