Marine News from the Great Lakes

The Great Lakes Center for the Arts set to Open July 2018

A New Northern Star on Lake Michigan

Published: Friday, May 12, 2017 9:00 am

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 freshwater-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 quaint and welcoming towns of Petoskey, Harbor Springs, Boyne City, and Charlevoix.

Construction of this bright new star in the constellation of Michigan’s arts and cultures venues is well underway. 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 lineup scheduled to launch the inaugural season; programming will be announced in July 2017.

Executive Director Jill O’Neill noted, “With a mission to serve as a cultural and social hub for Northern Michigan, the Center will bring compelling performances to the shores of Lake Michigan with virtually limitless possibilities to inspire, entertain, and educate through the performing arts.”

In addition to the theater, the building 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 and President Emeritus of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, who 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.”

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 Great Lakes 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 homepage as well.

If you would like more information about the Great Lakes Center for the Arts, please contact Beth Anne Eckerle at [email protected] or 231-439-2600.

tags: Destination, Lake Michigan

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