Wilkes University


Dorothy Dickson Darte Center for the Performing Arts At Wilkes University Observes 50th Anniversary With Oct. 24 Celebration

The 50th anniversary of the Dorothy Dickson Darte Center for the Performing Arts at Wilkes University will be celebrated with an evening of dance, music and theatre performances on Oct 24 at 8 p.m. Select scenes from this year’s plays, including Our Town and Shout! The Mod Musical, will be performed, along with a modern dance offering and a ballet selection. The Wilkes University Chorus, Chamber Singers, Civic Band and Jazz Ensemble will also perform.

In the 50 years since its opening, the Darte Center has enriched the cultural life of the University campus, the City of Wilkes-Barre and surrounding communities by hosting numerous theatre, music and dance performances, as well as lectures and other important University events. The Darte Center has helped to shape the lives of the many performing artists who have lived, worked, and performed on its stage, and it stands as a symbol of the University’s ongoing commitment to vibrant programs in the performing arts. 

“The continued existence of the Darte Center is a mark of staying power in a way, and it shows that the University is invested in the arts,” Chair of the Division of Performing Arts Steven Thomas said. “It is a wonderful thing that the University did 50 years ago, to create this facility for the arts, and we’re still making art 50 years later.” 

During the Great Depression, Dorothy Dickson Darte made a significant contribution to fund the arts programs at Wilkes. She requested anonymity for her efforts, and after her death, what had been called the Wilkes College Center for Performing Arts, was dedicated in her name by former Wilkes University President Eugene S. Farley in 1970. 

Designed by Tony-award winning scenic designer Donald Oenslager, the building is both beautiful and practical. The 480-seat auditorium features a 34-foot deep stage with a hydraulic orchestra pit and state-of-the-art lighting and sound. 

In the opening dedication on Oct. 26, 1965, former Wilkes University President Eugene S. Farley said he hoped the building’s construction would help foster a more creative environment at the University. “We dare to hope that the much-needed-qualities of the spirit will be nurtured through a program that combines discipline in the sciences, the humanities, and the social studies with creativity in the performing arts,” he said. “We anticipate that creative effort will cultivate artistic and spiritual resources which will give meaning and direction to our material growth.”

The 50th anniversary celebration is open to the public. Those who wish to register can visit http://www.community.wilkes.edu/DDD50.