The Wharton Center for Performing Arts is located in East Lansing, Michigan, USA, on the campus of Michigan State University.
The Center is named for former MSU president, Clifton R. Wharton, Jr..A little more than a year and a half ago (May 19, 2008) ground was broken on the first major expansion and renovation to Michigan State University’s Wharton Center for Performing Arts, since opening its doors in 1982. The 24,000-square-foot (2,200 m2) addition (another 9,000 square of existing space was renovated) has dramatically – and quite literally – changed the face of Wharton Center with a striking four-story glass and brick façade; an expanded front lobby, box office and gift shop; and family restrooms and additional women’s restrooms. The new addition also includes two new multi-purpose spaces to accommodate educational programs presented by the MSU Federal Credit Union Institute for Arts & Creativity at Wharton Center and also serve as reception space and a designated donor lounge in conjunction with public performances presented by Wharton Center. Consolidated administrative offices for the Wharton Center staff were also part of the expansion. “The project allows us to enhance the ‘Wharton Experience’ for patrons and performers with more space and more amenities,” said Mike Brand, Wharton Center’s executive director. “The initial response has been overwhelmingly positive.” Additionally, a new crew room, restrooms, dressing rooms, and other enhancements help address touring production issues backstage. “Previously, when we’d present a mega-hit like Disney’s THE LION KING, the show barely fit,” said Diane Baribeau, Wharton Center’s general manager. “The new spaces and enhancements help solidify our reputation among producers and performers, as well as with our patrons.” Of the $18.5 million cost for improvements, $7.5 million came from the university while $11 million is to be raised from private donations. To date, $7 million has been gifted from individuals and businesses to support the project, which reopened its doors on October 10, 2009. “This project wouldn’t have been possible without the generous support of our university leadership, MSU alumni, and the greater community,” Brand said. “Although we still have dollars to raise, we understand the economic challenges people are having. We’re confident that, when things turn around, the community will step forward.”