About Next Gen

Educating Through the Arts

The mission of the Great Lakes Center for the Arts is to inspire, entertain, educate, and serve all in Northern Michigan year-round by presenting exceptional experiences across the full spectrum of the performing arts and offering impactful educational opportunities.

The Center offers broad experiences and school matinees that reach many students across the region, as well as intensive opportunities that reach specific student groups. Area youth interact with and learn from world-class artists while cultivating a stronger appreciation for the performing arts. Thanks to the generous support of our Family of Donors and a grant from the State of Michigan, student performances are offered free of charge.

The GLCFA presents opportunities for students at all grade levels, pre-kindergarten through high school, across many genres. Working with a team of certified teachers, the Center staff aligns its events with the Michigan Standards and Curriculum. In the 2018-2019 academic year, events focused on literature, history/government, dance, and music, and the 2019-2020 year expanded to also include science. The 2020-2021 academic year presented new challenges with the pandemic and the Center pivoted to virtual performances, still reaching over 4,000 students across the region, state, and country. Teachers are provided with pre and post-lesson plans to use in their classrooms to optimize learning and enhance the theater-going experience for students.

Intensive opportunities that reached specific student groups with complimentary student tickets and/or educational components include these notable events: The Accidentals, Black Violin, Freedom Bound, Interlochen Swan Lake ballet, The Joffrey Ballet, Senator George Mitchell, Matthew Morrison, the Vienna Boys Choir, The Second City, among others.

To date, 27 organizations, 50 schools, and 12,200 students from across the region experienced matinees, master classes, workshops, movies, and evening events all free of charge. The Center is looking forward to welcoming youth back through the doors for more exceptional, educational opportunities. Stay tuned for programming info about the next season of Next Gen!

Next Generation is thankful for the support of:

Robert Jensen Dau Founation

Mansfield Family Foundation

The Meijer Foundation

Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs/

National Endowment for the Arts

Rachel Sytsma-Reed Headshot


For more information about Next Gen at the Center,
please contact Rachel Sytsma-Reed rachel@greatlakescfa.org.

Rachel Sytsma-Reed
Next Gen Program Coordinator