At Center Stage: Kate Green

 

Kate Green attended a handful of shows at the Weidner Center for the Performing Arts as a teen. Those early experiences were powerful enough to shape her future.

 

“There is something extraordinary about live entertainment,” says Green. “While I had seen productions at school, seeing something on that grand of a scale and with professional actors at the Weidner

Center allowed me to lose myself in the production. Those experiences really inspired me — it was like nothing I’d seen before.”

 

Early days at the Weidner Center

Green attended Ashwaubenon High School. When it came time to choose a college, she didn’t want to stray too far from home. She selected the University of Wisconsin – Green Bay (UW-Green Bay.)

In the fall of 1995, Green submitted an application to work in the ticketing office at the Weidner Center. “The Center was already part of my life by the time I got to UW-Green Bay,” adds Green.

 

In the ticketing office, she paired patrons with the shows of their choice. Over the next two years, Green got an intimate view into the heart of the performing arts center. She learned about customer service, sales organization, financial reconciliation and management. In 1997, she became a supervisor in the ticketing office, managing new student hires and overseeing additional responsibilities.

 

After graduating with a degree in communications, Green was hired as the Weidner Center’s group sales manager.

“I immensely enjoyed my work,” says Green. “At that time, Weidner Center staff were also involved in the revitalization of the Meyer Theatre in downtown Green Bay, as well as the Milwaukee Theatre. I had the privilege of working on-site in Milwaukee to help set up the venue’s group sales and ticketing operations.”

 

In 2003, a tremendous opportunity persuaded Green to leave the Weidner Center. She became the director of marketing and partnerships for the Green Bay Convention and Visitor Bureau. Three years later, the Weidner Center Presents, Inc. board of directors lured her back, asking Green to revitalize the Center’s programming. She says, “It was a challenge I couldn’t not take on.”

She helped put together two seasons of programming — a new performing arts season and an educational series serving students in grades K-12. Green served as president of Weidner Center Presents Inc. until 2011 before being hired by UW-Green Bay as general manager of the Weidner Center. In 2012, she became executive director.

 

Since taking charge, Green has helped increase attendance, establish and grow the education series program, secure local partnerships and build on community awareness and support.

 

“All told, I will be celebrating 18 years of experience with the Weidner Center this fall,” adds Green.

 

Green Bay’s gem

Since opening its doors in 1993, Green explains the Weidner Center has been referred to as the jewel of northeast Wisconsin. “National and international performers rave about its acoustics and beauty. Patrons continue to adore the feeling of warmth and welcome that’s felt within the venue,” adds Green.

 

The Weidner Center serves the community as well as UW-Green Bay. Nearly 300 events are at held at the Center each year, with more than 60 percent of these university-related.

 

“Music and theatre students at UW-Green Bay have the great advantage of performing at a world-class performing arts center prior to graduation — an opportunity not available to most,” says Green. “Students at UW-Green Bay have firsthand access to many of the stars and talent that perform at the Center, whether in the form of master classes or attending the shows themselves.”

Public programming ranges from musicals to comedy, dance and iconic performers. “Our focus is on quality and variety, bringing the best of everything from across the globe to northeast Wisconsin,” adds Green.

 

When selecting shows, Green reveals she always has the patron in mind. She says, “I am always thinking about what the patron’s experience will be like. I am sure part of that stems from how I was made to feel when first coming to the Weidner Center. I hope each experience changes them in some way.”

 

The Weidner Center’s education series draws school groups from 22 counties. The programs feature national touring acts that complement school curriculum, either reinforcing subject matters or bringing important topics, like bullying, to life. Approximately 15,000 students experience the educational programs each year.

 

A day in the life

As executive director of the Weidner Center, Green has become a master of juggling projects and planning for the future.

Managing emails and phone calls keeps Green very busy — she admits to having as many as 2,000 emails in her inbox at any given time. Keeping on top of tour bookings, agent correspondence, price negotiations and event contracts are ongoing demands of the job.

 

On a show day, you’d think her work was done. Not true. As the show unloads, she is busy backstage. When the front doors open, Green is meeting with patrons and making sure everything is ready to go. As the performers take the stage, Green is getting final box office reports and working on the financial settlement with the show. Sometimes, she is able to sneak in and enjoy the end of the performance.

 

With thousands of agents looking to promote their shows, Green does her research and taps into her connections before booking a performance. She explains she’s developed long-term relationships with some agents and trusts they are offering a quality product. She also relies on colleagues for input on what they’ve seen or what piqued their interest. And, the community is also willing to offer an opinion. Green receives CDs or messages about a must-see show.

 

“I love that. It shows me they have a real interest in the Weidner Center being part of their life. They want to help and let me know what they’d like to see here,” adds Green.

 

Programming and attendance has grown each year since the Weidner Center’s 2007/2008 season. Green reveals the upcoming season will also be a little bigger, with a few more titles.

 

“I believe we are going to continue to expand our reach and the number of people coming through our doors,” says Green. “I see the future of the Weidner Center to be very bright — I have great confidence.”

 

Exciting months ahead

The Weidner Center has a full schedule of programs and events coming up the next few weeks. Green reveals she is looking forward to the following:

• April 4 – Hit Makers tour, starring Richie McDonald (voice of Lonestar), Grammy-Award winner Suzy Bogguss, Larry Stewart (voice of

  Restless Heart) and Grammy-Award winner Billy Dean.

• April 8 – Wild Kratts Live, a sold out performance.

• April 12 – Mnozil Brass, a world premier brass ensemble with the wit and humor of Monty Python built in.

• April 13 – Andy Grammer.

• May 21 – Local talents Andi and Alex from “The Voice.”

 

Green is currently finalizing the 2016/2017 performing arts and education series season. The lineup will be announced in late June or early July. w

 

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