Celebrating Artistry in Northern Michigan

In 2018, the Northern Michigan community of Bay Harbor welcomed the Great Lakes Center for the Arts, a cultural and social performance hub now noted among nationally recognized arts organizations.

The Center’s mission is to provide world-class performances and events and a robust education program that inspires, entertains, and educates audiences at affordable prices. The year-round, diverse line-up of regional, national, and international performers showcases all genres — music, dance, comedy, theatrical productions, cinema, intellectual dialogue, education, and children’s programming.

The Great Lakes Center for the Arts boasts a beautifully crafted, intimate 525-seat theater housing a large stage with state-of-the-art features that meet the demands of internationally acclaimed artists and companies. The sound system is electronically optimized to match the varied requirements of diverse programming, from cinema to symphony.

The venue is home to an outdoor patio, a donor lounge, a rooftop terrace, and other amenities. Patrons can enjoy special events in the community engagement room, a versatile social and business venue rental space. Making the destination even more special, boaters can tie up dockside on the shores of Little Traverse Bay to take in a performance.

“The response to all of our events has been positive, and we certainly have an arts-loving community in this area!” stated Executive Director Jill O’Neill. “While we continue to learn what our audiences are most excited about, we have seen success in many different genres across the spectrum of the performing arts, from comedy and classical to cinema sing-along and musical theater.”

“A few of the exceptional events from our first years include The Joffrey Ballet, Matthew Morrison, The Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Bob Saget, Mitch Albom, Jeb Bush, the Vienna Boys Choir, and the Choir of Man,” O’Neill continued.

“Through our educational program, nearly 8,500 students from across the region have experienced matinees, master classes, workshops, and evening events all free of charge, thanks to the very generous support of our family of donors and community foundations,” O’Neill said.

“The Center has added to the existing arts culture in Northern Michigan, providing more opportunities for the surrounding communities and offering an additional space for rehearsals and performances by local arts organizations.”

Centrally located, the Center sits amidst the picturesque lakeside communities of Petoskey, Harbor Springs, Charlevoix, and Boyne City, so in addition to enjoying a performance, visitors can stroll by shops and restaurants and take in the beautiful scenery. Views of the lake were intentionally preserved by architect TowerPinkster, in conjunction with Fischer Dachs Associates, a theater design company dedicated to creating spaces that work brilliantly for all constituents (artists as well as patrons).

The Great Lakes Center for the Arts is a 501(c)3 charitable organization with an independent board of directors. In addition to their individual specialties, board members are passionate about the arts, education, and the Great Lakes Northern Michigan region. The staff leadership includes classically trained musicians and Young American alumni.


Great Lakes Center for the Arts
800 Bay Harbor Drive, Bay Harbor MI  49770
231-439-2600 / GreatLakesCFA.org