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MSUFCU Endows Institute For Arts And Creativity

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On May 19, 2008, President Lou Anna K. Simon, representatives from the Michigan State University Board of Trustees and numerous Wharton Center for Performing Arts supporters gathered to celebrate and break ground on the first major expansion and renovation of Wharton Center in its 25-year history. After nearly three years of planning and silent fundraising, the public phase of the project has begun.
Over the next 18 months, improvements to Wharton Center?s backstage area and public spaces will address critical needs. The backstage will be brought up to current national touring production standards, enabling Wharton Center to continue to bring the best of Broadway to Michigan. Visitors to its public spaces will notice an improved box office, larger lobby, more restrooms, dedicated patron lounges for performances and educational spaces wired for distance learning throughout the state.
As construction began, a remarkable lead gift was made in April 2008. The MSU Federal Credit Union (MSUFCU) made a pledge gift of $2,500,000 to support two prominent areas. Part of the gift will continue MSUFCU?s sponsorship of Broadway at Wharton Center for the next five years. The remainder of the gift will create an endowment to support the newly formed MSU Federal Credit Union Institute for Arts and Creativity at Wharton Center.
The Institute for Arts and Creativity will be an umbrella for current arts education programs including the Act One Series, Young Playwrights Festival, Jazz Kats: Jazz for Kids, Kennedy Center Partners in Education, and Preview Lecture Series. Annually, these programs reach more than 30,000 children and adults. In the future, the cornerstone of the institute will be the artist-in-residence program which integrates world-class artists with MSU students and faculty, as well as with school children and adult learners throughout the state. Residencies to date have included the Stratford Shakespeare Festival, Dianne Reeves, and Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.
Founded in 1937, the MSUFCU has become the world?s largest university-based credit union by providing personal financial services to its members through innovative services and technology. The creativity and imagination of the institute to reach learners of all ages through the performing arts is what attracted MSUFCU to create the endowment.
"Ever since its first performance, Wharton Center has had a long-standing partnership with the MSUFCU," said MSUFCU Board Chair William Latta. "The Center has become much more than Michigan?s premiere performing arts venue. As part of its outreach, it has brought leading artists to work with MSU students and schools throughout Michigan, commissioned major compositions and introduced school children of all ages to the wondrous world of make believe - something that is so often forgotten in today?s world of television and video games."
MSUFCU is a financial cooperative that is woven into the very fiber of the East Lansing community, not only by making loans for the community members? mortgages and vehicles, but by supporting the community it serves. "MSU Federal Credit Union prides itself in excellent service. Looking to support excellence, the credit union board, management and members are proud to be a major contributor to the founding of the Institute for Arts and Creativity, enabling MSU?s and Wharton Center?s vision to become reality. As a result, many individuals and organizations will have the opportunity to develop their creativity, enhancing their personal and professional lives," Latta said.
MSUFCU?s gift is the lead gift in Wharton Center?s capital campaign to raise $11 million. To date, $6.5 million has been raised.
"This campaign will literally change the face of Wharton Center," said Wharton Center Executive Director Mike Brand. "Not only will a dramatic front fa├žade be added to the center but it will address needs for patron and donor amenities, expand the backstage facilities for ever-growing touring productions, and provide room to grow for both education and staff. People know about the great performances, but the future will offer something unique in our industry: a combination of world-class artists with the talent of faculty and students of a great university to create stunning education programs to enrich the cultural life of MSU and the state of Michigan."