The Center for the Performing Arts provides a context, through artistic connections, to the human experience. By bringing artists and audiences together we spark discovery of passion, inspiration, and inner truths. We are a motivator for creative thinking and examination of our relationship with the world.
Arts Leadership — We believe artistic distinction and exceptional experiences are the cornerstones of the Center for the Performing Arts and are integral to our position of national leadership.
People First — We value everyone who benefits from and contributes to the Center for the Performing Arts. We take pride in fostering an environment of mutual respect, teamwork, and high ethical standards in which everyone's involvement is honored, supported, and appreciated.
Service Focused — We provide our constituencies and partners with a consistently high level of support, access, and opportunities ensuring the greatest possible inclusiveness, diversity, and enrichment for those we serve.
Creative Innovation — We seek and promote innovative, provocative, and risk-taking ideas and creative approaches across our organization.
Committed Stewardship — We ensure fiscal health, sustain superior facilities, create self-sustaining systems, and support the reduction of our environmental footprint through our business model, practices, and policies.
The Center for the Performing Arts Community Advisory Council is dedicated to strengthening the relationship between the center and the community. The council achieves this objective through a range of activities in support of the programs and performances at the center. The members of the council, who generously share their time and talents, are:
Alfred Jones Jr., chair
Under the inspired leadership of Albert W. Christ-Janer, first director (1956-58) of Penn State's School of the Arts, the Center for the Performing Arts began as the Artists Series in September 1957. With a grant from the Board of Trustees and with the enthusiastic support of students, faculty, and administration, an appointed committee (comprised by individuals from various disciplines) initiated the series as an extension of education.
Nina Brown, the first director (1957-1985) of the Artists Series, saw that the program's mission strived to enrich and enhance the lives of students and the community with a well-balanced season of programs for both the novice and the knowledgeable. These programs included everything from traditional to experimental, and fledgling to famous. These goals are still a part of the Center's mission.
In 1961 the University decided to invite two or three well-known persons to speak each year. The Lecture Series (now known as the University's Distinguished Speaker's Series) became part of the Artists Series and invited speakers including politicians, educators, and artists.
Housed in Schwab Auditorium and later Pine Cottage, the Artists Series presented the majority of its programs in Schwab Auditorium, with larger orchestras, musicals, and some dance in the Recreation Hall. In 1974 the University opened the doors to its new University Auditorium, later renamed the Milton S. Eisenhower Auditorium. The Artists Series moved the majority of its performances to the new auditorium, which allowed the expansion of its programs. These new programs included Broadway musicals, more family shows, expanded educational activities, and more.
In 1985, the Artists Series moved the majority of its administrative, marketing, ticketing, and development out of Pine Cottage and into Eisenhower Auditorium (where all offices are now located). During that same year, the Artists Series merged with Auditorium Management (which included the production services, house management, parking, and also ticketing) to create the Center for the Performing Arts.
In the beginning, funding for the program came from the University. Several years later, prior to the opening of Eisenhower Auditorium, the program began to support itself through ticket sales. Now, in its forty-second year, the program seeks fundraising through ticket sales, donations, grants, and more.
Ever-changing and growing, the Center for the Performing Arts stands as one of Pennsylvania's major cultural resources and continues to be a nationally recognized major commissioner of new works.