There are a number of ways Western Michigan University elevates the community; Miller Auditorium is just one example of how we work to make our community a better place.
Each year, Miller Auditorium provides free or low-cost tickets to at least 500 low income students and families. In May, 100 local middle and high school STEM students got to see Neil deGrasse Tyson. Earlier in the year in February, 100 high school students were able to experience The Phantom of the Opera live, onstage.
“Miller Auditorium is committed to improving access to our performances because the arts are vital to humanity and they are often one of the first areas that our schools have to cut from when faced with budget challenges,” said Tracey Lawie, Director of Marketing and Programming for Miller. “For this reason, and for the life changing experiences the arts can provide, it is important to us to be able to offer tickets to those who may not otherwise have access due to financial or other restraints.”
Additionally, Miller invites military families to performances each season, and works with performers to coordinate master classes for WMU students, who also benefit from free tickets.
For the greater community, Miller tries to create experiences specific to performances. For example, during a run of STOMP, Miller ran a “STOMP out Hunger” food drive to benefit Kalamazoo Loaves and Fishes. During The Phantom of the Opera, a ‘Healing through the Arts’ program solicited books and art supplies for patients at Bronson’s Children’s Hospital. When Wicked came to town, Miller worked with local middle schools to create anti-bullying videos. Similarly, when The Lion King was playing, elementary school classes submitted ideas for promoting healthy habits.
Sometimes these projects take students on the road, too. For example, they also worked with the Velvelettes, the all-female Motown group, to teach Motown history to local high schoolers. That project culminated in a trip to the Motown Museum in Detroit, in addition to seeing Motown the Musical at Miller.
Lawie says that Miller staff often receives gratitude from students who attend performances, some of whom are experiencing live theatre for the first time.
“For many who send these notes, not only was this their very first visit to Miller and to Western Michigan University, but also their first visit to a theatre to see a live performance,” Lawie said. “It’s also wonderful to work our school performances and see the excitement firsthand as you help children off the school busses and to their very own theater seats. Seeing the experience through their eyes just reinforces why it is so important to improve arts access and why this will always be part of our mission at Miller Auditorium.”
Miller Auditorium is just one example of the ways Western Michigan University is working to elevate campus and community. Click below to view other areas where you can make a difference in the community through WMU.
Learn more about Miller Auditorium.