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Wharton Center looks to a thriving post-pandemic future

Mike Brand

Spartans Athletic Director Bill Beekman welcomes Mike Brand to MSU Today. Brand is Executive Director of Wharton Center for the Performing Arts.

Brand talks about the 2020/2021 schedule at Wharton Center and how it’s been impacted by the pandemic.

“As Covid-19 started to look like it was going to take a while to get under control and for a vaccine to be developed, we decided to move our entire fall schedule to the following winter and spring. That gives us more time to prepare our facilities for a safe experience. And now we’re just waiting for the industry to say it’s OK for all the actors and musicians to resume productions. Moving forward, the Wharton experience will be as touchless as possible.

“There are a lot of moving parts even though we’ve announced the season, but we’re getting a great response from our patrons. They want to make sure Wharton Center is thriving after we get through the pandemic. We feel good about the community support.”

Brand talks about his strategy for booking shows and how he’s often working three or four years ahead to make the Wharton schedule.

“It’s kind of like when your coaches are out looking for players. You’re looking at high school players when they’re freshmen and following them through four years watching how they develop. We do the same as your scouts do when we’re out looking for artists.

“And we’re looking at other options where we could bring some of our productions into your home. We’re looking at new ways of marketing and enjoying the performing arts. Our industry is going to have to start looking at out-of-the-theatre experiences.”

Brand talks about the outreach mission of the Institute for Arts and Creativity and tells why two of his favorite visitors to Wharton Center are Laura Bell Bundy and Itzhak Perlman “because they really love talking with young people and ask if they can do that when they visit.”

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