Dedication of the Haas Center for Performing Arts

The Dedication and Naming Ceremony of the Thomas J. and Marcia J. Haas Center for Performing Arts took place on Friday, August 25th, 2017.
Below are remarks from Department Chair, Dr. Danny Phipps, and current music student, Anna Petrenko.  Read more about the day here.

Remarks by Department Chair, Dr. Danny Phipps

I’d like to start by thanking President and Mrs. Haas, the Keller family, and all of the supporters of the arts at Grand Valley. Your support makes our work possible.

William Bennett, during his service as Secretary of Education wrote:
"The arts are an essential element of education ... just like reading, writing, and arithmetic ... the study of music, dance, painting and theater are all keys that unlock profound human understanding and accomplishment.”  
Wise words - and words which today are given physical manifestation in the Thomas J. and Marcia J. Haas Center for Performing Arts.

Dr. Phipps

Surrounding us today is tangible evidence of deep commitment and understanding from Grand Valley’s administration and donors of the essential nature of arts study to challenge our students to dream beyond the present and craft a better future.  Providing desperately needed production and performance space, this new facility will allow our growing programs to expand their positive impact on students.  Our music program alone has grown 46% in just the past 3 years and more than 300 students participate yearly in our theatre productions.

Newly renovated offices and applied instrumental studios will properly protect decades of investments Grand Valley has made to the performing arts.  New rehearsal studios provide students studying percussion, early music, jazz, and new music dedicated places to learn their craft.  Superb new dance floors will provide students with safe environments to explore the study of human movement. New dressing rooms and costume production areas now include storage that will allow us to consolidate costume items that had been literally crammed into every nook and cranny of our facility before this renovation - allowing our theatre students to create and thrive as never before.

The expanded lobby will allow us to accommodate the 10,000 patrons each year who enjoy our programs, and during the day will serve as a much needed student study area.  A wonderful space made even more magnificent through the new "salon style" display of over 200 pieces of art on loan from our Grand Valley Art Gallery, which is also housed in the Haas Center.

Finally, we can now better serve our patrons.  We have more than 250 performances per year, the majority of them offered for free.  Until this Fall it has been a challenge just to schedule them.  That is no longer a problem:  with the addition of the Linn Maxwell Keller Black Box Theatre, we have a state-of-the-art facility to meet our growing demand for performance space.   

I am thrilled at the positive impact all of this will have on our students, but that is best heard first-hand.  Allow me to introduce GVSU student Anna Petrenko. Anna is a senior, majoring in music education with performance honors.  She is a saxophonist and a past winner of our concerto competition who performs in the GVSU Symphonic Wind Ensemble and the Jubilee Saxophone Quartet.

Remarks from current student, Anna Petrenko

Good afternoon,

I am pleased and grateful for the opportunity to share the thoughts and excitement I have on the expansion and renovation to the Thomas J. and Marcia J. Haas Center for Performing Arts that have recently been finished.

As a music student, to me, this building is a second home, and in all honesty, I might actually spend more time here than I do at my home—which isn’t as uncommon as you might think for the performing arts students here at Grand Valley.


Anna Petrenko

My typical day starts at 8 in the morning and is filled with anywhere from 6-8 hours of playing my instrument: rehearsals with large ensembles, chamber ensembles, personal practice sessions, private lessons, and instrumental technique lessons where I learn all the instruments you see in choir, band, and orchestra. So, there’s a lot of playing. And that’s just me. That’s one student in a growing Department of Music, Theatre, and Dance where ambitions meet with opportunities and students, with staff, network and brainstorm to create art.

As I mentioned, the performing arts programs are growing which is exciting. But in recent years, a problem has developed. Students are so ambitious, so dedicated, and so hardworking that performance and rehearsal spaces have been scarce to find for all those activities that need to occur in order to reach the excellence that Grand Valley stands for. Not a bad problem to have, right? But that’s the truth and reality of it! The community of performing artists at GV are accustomed to working hard which is incredible, but is less than awesome when you’re fighting for rehearsal spaces with over 200 other students who are in the same boat as you.

As a music education major, my heart swells with pride for Grand Valley not only because of the culture and community that I feel a part of, but also, in a nation where many arts programs are the first things to be cut from a school’s budget, to have Grand Valley publicly display the importance of arts on this campus through this renovation and expansion…I’m touched and excited for the future Lakers who come into this university. This expansion, with all the added space for rehearsing, with the beautiful black box theater that will be put to good use, I’m sure, is a testament to how much Grand Valley values not only the empirical studies, but the studies that touch beyond data—the studies that touch the inner person through dance, through theater, and through music.

I also want to take this time to personally thank President and Mrs. Haas for the generous endowment that they have started for the professional competitions that many of the students take part in, and which I have personally experienced. Last year, my saxophone quartet, the Jubilee Quartet, travelled to a regional competition at which we performed and we hope to compete at the national level through the North American Saxophone Alliance this year. With this fund, performing arts students will be able to travel and represent GV in the best light through what we do: perform.

From the bottom of my heart, to everyone who has played a role in supporting the performing arts here at GV, and especially to President and Mrs. Haas, thank you!

Louis Armstrong Theatre

The GVSU Faculty Brass Quintet performs at the Dedication and Naming Ceremony of the Thomas J. and Marcia J. Haas Center for Performing Arts.

More photos coming soon.

Page last modified August 28, 2017