The Edward W. Weidner Center for the Performing Arts opened its doors in 1993 and ushered in a new era of arts and entertainment for Northeastern Wisconsin. The Weidner Center has received rave reviews from both visiting performers and audiences alike. Its exceptional acoustics, physical beauty and state-of-the-art accommodations combine to make it one of the finest performing halls in all of Wisconsin.
Dr. David Cofrin offered the seed gift to begin the planning stages of the Weidner Center. Dr. Cofrin made two conditions for the gift: the Weidner Center must be located on the campus of the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, and it must serve the entire community. Dr. Edward W. Weidner, the university's founding chancellor, began to solicit local support and also offered leadership. A major fund-raising campaign began in the late 1980s, which would eventually raise the remainder of the $18.4 million needed to build the facility. Support came from community corporations, foundations, private citizens, and the State of Wisconsin. Today, the Weidner Center (named for Dr. Weidner) exists as a unique model of a "comm-university" center, which is supported by both the University and the communities of Northeastern Wisconsin.
As the Weidner Center approached its fifth anniversary in 1998, plans for expansion came to fruition. Again the Cofrin Family stepped up to the plate. The plans included added restroom facilities, an expanded ticket office, more lobby space, a studio theatre for academic use, more dressing rooms and backstage storage space, and the relocation of the administrative offices. An elevator on the Center's west side and semi-private dining spaces were also part of the project.
The Weidner Center has presented an impressive array of performances in itís nearly two decade history. The Weidner has hosted everything from Broadway to chamber orchestras to pop acts and family events. Performers like Johnny Cash, Yo-Yo Ma, Jerry Seinfeld, Julie Andrews, Robert Goulet, Jeff Foxworthy, Bill Cosby, Tony Curtis, Ann Margret, The BoDeans, Willie Nelson, Johnny Mathis, Tony Bennett, Anne Murray, Itzhak Perlman, David Copperfield, Emmylou Harris, Victor Borge, George Carlin, Harry Belafonte, Hootie & the Blowfish, The Smothers Brothers, John Denver, Da Yoopers, Bobby McFerrin, Wynton Marsalis, Steve Allen, Paul Anka, The Mannheim Steamroller and Marie Osmond have graced the Weidner Center stage. Musicals like The Phantom of the Opera, Miss Saigon, Disney's Beauty and the Beast, The Fiddler on the Roof, Cats, and Rent have also played to packed houses.
The purpose of the Weidner Center is to create a place for the community to be entertained and enriched. It is with that recognition that the Weidner Center is not just considered a place, but a cultural center that evolves as the face of the community changes and diversifies. The Weidner Center will continue to respond to the changing community by providing a more diverse program to appeal to audiences from all walks of life for many years to come.
2420 Nicolet Drive
Green Bay, WI 54311