Say hello to the new Weidner
The performing arts center rebrands after 30 years, with a new image and mission for the community
By Rachel Sankey
The Weidner Center for the Performing Arts’ image received a major facelift.
Kelli Strickland, executive and artistic director of the Weidner, located at 2420 Nicolet Drive on the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay (UWGB) campus, said the center’s brand dates back to when it first opened in 1993 – nearly 30 years ago.
The rebranding, Strickland said, comes with a new website, logo, color palette, font and completely new vocabulary.
“The rebrand is meant to usher in a new era of the Weidner,” Strickland said. “One that feels slightly more modern, that is focused on welcoming new audiences into the building.”
Reflecting and rebranding
The idea behind the Weidner’s refresh started during the COVID-19 pandemic, when stages that were once graced by talented musicians, comedians and dancers remained dark for 18 months.
The extended closure period afforded staff the opportunity to reflect on working toward a new era of the Weidner Center.
“Relaunches like this take a lot of thought, time and preparation,” Strickland said. “Without the break in performances, I’m not sure we could have done it.”
Part of the plan to relaunch included re-operationalizing the center’s staff.
Now, Strickland said there are more students employed at the Weidner than there has been in the past.
She said the students are working in all functions of the building – from marketing to the front of house.
The Weidner will also add two new positions that are dedicated to community engagement.
“We’re making sure that we have the relationships, and have built a solid foundation with our schools, social service organizations and everyone in town who’s working toward a shared goal of a vibrant, greater Green Bay,” Strickland said.
As for the marketing piece of the puzzle, Strickland said the first conversation was on changing the color palette and fonts to better align with the UWGB, as the Weidner is a part of the university.
“I think that there are similarities between our restated and intentional commitment to access to the arts that you can see running right in parallel to access to education, from the university’s perspective,” she said. “So even how we’re going about executing our mission feels in lockstep with the university.”
The rebrand also includes a brand new website with new language, which can also be seen in other marketing aspects of the performing arts center.
For the community
The Weidner’s rebranding goes beyond a new and improved appearance.
When the focus on planning the rebrand turned to the community, Strickland said it was important to reshape what the audience’s experience and involvement entailed.
“We presented arts on our stage, and the audience would come and sort of sit at a distance,” she said. “We wanted to shake up the idea about what access to the arts means, where you access the arts, who is accessing the arts, the kind of artists we feature and making sure that we are representative of all the different kinds of walks of life and artistic voices and worldviews that we know make the fabric of our community so rich.”
To make the arts more accessible, and to allow for the Weidner to have more of an outside presence in the community, Strickland said there will be a mobile stage launching in August, which can be set up at different kinds of locations to have a further reach in the Greater Green Bay area.
Another change with the rebrand is how the community receives communication from the Weidner.
Traditionally, Strickland said the performing arts center would print a book and make an announcement in the spring of all the events that were happening over the next year.
The staff began to notice even before COVID-19 – but especially during – how the time between a patron making the decision to attend a performance and the date of the performance itself was getting shorter.
To better align with the changes, Strickland said there will be quarterly communications.
For example, fall titles were announced at the release yesterday, winter titles will be announced in the fall, spring titles will be announced in the winter and so on.
“We’re drawing a lot of attention and excitement around new batches of titles that are constantly being announced,” she said. “It better reflects buyer patterns.”
A new era of entertainment and inclusivity comes along with the Weidner Center’s new mission.
Since its opening almost 30 years ago, Strickland said there’s been a shift in generations and what they’re looking for when it comes to entertainment and involvement.
“With traditional performing arts, there was an expectation that audiences came, and their role was one of enjoyment, but somewhat passive,” she said. “What we know about younger generations is they are looking for arts experiences that have a higher level of engagement and are, in general, more experiential – so engaging more senses and artistic disciplines. We’re still committed to presenting the absolute masters of their given artistic disciplines, but we’re also looking at creating artistic experiences that allow for arts engagements.”
The new face of the Weidner, Strickland said, now focuses on making sure there is a little bit more of something for everyone, from artists, to introducing the culinary arts and more.
“Some events that are surprising and unique, like Unhinged – which will be the second Unhinged – but this time, we’re moving it to the Weidner,” Strickland said. “It’s a curated partnership with Kent Hutchinson of Unhinged and STEAM Engine. Patrons will be allowed access to almost every space in the building. So, performances happening under the stage where the lift systems are to giant interactive exhibits in the loading docks. I think our building is just a beautiful building. It’s one thing to enter it and admire it. It’s another thing to be able to be given total access.”
The new Weidner
After the announcement of the rebranding at the Farmers’ Market on Broadway Wednesday, June 22, Strickland said she feels relieved and excited after having to keep quiet for so long about the Weidner’s changes.
“It was just one foot in front of the other, and you just have to keep the faith,” she said. “For us, we just keep looking at our Northstar of, ‘What does it mean to serve a 21st century audience in Greater Green Bay that’s rapidly growing, rapidly changing, and how do we think about what it means to deliver performing arts to our community in a new way?’”
Follow the Weidner Center on Facebook and Instagram, and check out the website at weidnercenter.com to experience the new and improved performing arts center for the community.
Rachel Sankey is the associate editor of Green Bay City Pages. She can be reached via email at [email protected]