MSU’s Wharton Center for performing arts – the leading presenting venue among Big Ten institutions – has been the base for a plethora of Broadway shows since its doors first opened in 1982.
In an effort to refine its mission and statement, the center’s symbol is undergoing a makeover; the new symbol visually highlights the word “art” in "Wharton."
Wharton Center Director of Marketing and Communications Diane Wilcox said the purpose behind the symbol redesign was to put an emphasis on all the different forms of art displayed inside the building.
“When you come to Wharton Center, you don’t just come to a cold hall to see a show, you come into a space that we have carefully cultivated to make welcoming, that has physical and fine art on display at all times, as well as the (artisanship) you’re going to be seeing on stage,” Wilcox said.
Former MSU President Clifton Wharton and his wife, Dolores, created the Wharton Center hoping to use the arts as a mechanism to unite people of all different backgrounds, from cultural to economical – but while their lives were constantly centered around art, the center’s founders were unaware of a brand marketing opportunity that came with it.
“They did not realize that art was at the center of their name,” Wilcox said.
The Wharton Center is a non-profit organization that contains numerous programs that integrate the arts and academics; such as the MSU Federal Credit Union Institute for Art and Creativity, an institution that provides learning programs for people of all ages.
An important goal of the re-branding is to enlighten the public or people unaware of the center’s educational and community engaging programs, Wilcox said.
“We’re not just a Broadway touring house. We love entertainment and believe in enriching people’s lives, but there’s a lot more going on here at Wharton Center than just what you might see on the stage,” Wilcox said.
Throughout the years, Wharton Center has impacted many people’s lives through their community engaging programs, including a program called Take It From The Top – a course where Broadway professionals come to East Lansing and work with students who are interested in Broadway.
Carnegie Mellon graduate student Todd Tuchek is one of the many people whose lives has been positively impacted by this program and the Wharton Center.
Along with being a participant in the program in his youth, Tuchek worked as an educational workshop administrator for the Take It From The Top musical theater summer camp prior to attending grad school, which he noted as a fulfilling experience.
“I saw myself in a lot of the students that would come to the auditions that we held, so that was really exciting,” Tuchek said.
Tuchek, a Western Michigan Department of Theater graduate, credited the Wharton Center program to his improvement as a Broadway performer.
“Doing Take It From The Top has really helped me in my auditions and becoming a better performer,” Tuchek said. “The Wharton Center has definitely shaped my career path.”
Storytelling and touching communities is an essential part of Wharton Center’s brand, and the new brand remodel will help reiterate that desire, said Wilcox.
“We are defined by the collection of stories among our communities – both the people who attend our shows and participate in our program,” Wilcox said.