The Weidner Center for the Performing Arts at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay welcomed its newest executive and artistic director, Kelli Strickland, on October 31. Strickland’s goal is to attract more interest to the center among students and the community.
Strickland, who replaced former director Kate Green, now the manager at the Ashwaubenon Performing Arts Center, is working on ways to further increase membership and value to the arts program.
“In addition to increased public programming, we will be doubling down on our commitment to K12 arts education in our area and supporting the excellent work of local artists and community groups,” Strickland says.
Strickland is also looking at how to attract more than just performing arts students, and her answer is attracting science and technology students, who she thinks will breathe new life into set design in the center’s productions.
“There is a lot of energy on campus around our engineering programs,” Strickland says. “I have a particular interest in thinking about those areas where science, technology, innovation and art intersect.”
Before joining the Weidner, Strickland was executive director at two major Chicago theaters and also worked in education, having taught at Loyola University Chicago for 17 years. Bringing this experience to the forefront, she hopes to use her position to get young people more interested in the arts.
“The arts and culture sector has struggled mightily to connect with an audience under 35,” Strickland says. “I think there is a special opportunity here to cultivate and deepen that relationship.”
Strickland says the facility itself was another motivating factor in her relocation to Green Bay.
“Cofrin Family Hall has such an extraordinary reputation in the region,” Strickland says. “To say that it is a treasure is an understatement. There’s nothing like it in terms of craftsmanship, warmth and acoustics.”
Overall, Strickland says she’s had a great start at the Weidner.
“I’ve had the great fortune of meeting many wonderful folks,” Stickland says. “I am most looking forward to working with such a tremendous community of people.”
Find show and ticket information at weidnercenter.com. –CW