About the Weis Center

Exterior of the Weis Center for the Performing Arts

The 1,200-seat Weis Center for the Performing Arts, located on the campus of Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pa., hosts professional and campus music, dance, and theatre events, as well as lectures, convocations, and other functions. The architecturally striking and acoustically exceptional space has been presenting professional performances since 1988.

Our Mission

The Weis Center aims to engage a balanced and broad spectrum of performing arts and professional presentations.

We do that by introducing audiences to a range of high-quality music, theatre and dance performers. We aspire to support living and contemporary artists and creators, and ones who cross disciplinary boundaries. We strive to book artists and companies with appropriate ancillary activities whenever possible: residencies, master classes, lecture demonstrations, and public school appearances, with a view to increasing involvement in and knowledge of the arts within the University, local community, and the region.

Our History

The Performing Arts Center was funded primarily through a 1982 bequest from the estate of Claire Weis, wife of the founder of the Weis Market chain. At the time of the opening, her son, Sigfried, served as Chairman of the Board of Trustees at Bucknell and president of Weis Markets. The bequest reflects Mrs. Weis’ lifelong interest in the cultural life of the region and her perception of the advantage of such a facility to Bucknell’s thriving performing arts curriculum as well as to the developing region.

The groundbreaking for the Weis Center took place on May 11, 1985, with construction completing in late 1987 and early 1988.

Venue Technical Information

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Inside the Weis Center

Slides

Spiral stairs in the Weis Center
Interior of the Weis Center for the Performing Arts
Weis Center interior ceiling

Special Features

The Weis Center is an exceptionally high-quality performing arts venue built with proportions similar to Boston Symphony Hall and Vienna’s Musikvereinsaal. Its “shoe box” shape is considered one of the best for superior acoustics. Sound-reflecting surfaces were built into the hall’s ceiling and side panels. The Center houses an extensive sound and lighting system, as well as a platform lift or orchestra pit elevator. The building includes an expansive glass-encased lobby with sweeping helix staircase ascending to the upper floor, plus rehearsal rooms, dressing rooms, and loading and storage areas.

Other features include a specially constructed dance floor built to meet the specifications of the American Dance Guild.

About the Namesakes

Claire Gross Weis (1884-1981) was born in Bloomsburg, Pa. Her marriage to Sigmund Weis in 1911 brought her to Selinsgrove, Pa., where the newly married couple built a home near Susquehanna University, where both children, Claire Elizabeth (Betty) and Sigfried, were born. In 1917, the family moved to Sunbury, Pa. She was an excellent bridge player, an avid golfer and a volunteer for the Red Cross and many other causes. She and her husband were among the small group who provided funds to open the J.R. Kauffman Public Library in Sunbury. The concept of a performing arts center at Bucknell excited her imagination.

Sigmund Weis (1883-1955), the son of a merchant, was born and raised in Selinsgrove. He attended preparatory school at Susquehanna and graduated from its college in the class of 1903. He also graduated from the Eastman School of Business in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. When his father, Sigfried, died, the young merchant sold the general store in Selinsgrove and opened his first grocery store in Sunbury in 1912. At the store co-founded by Sigmund and his brother Harry, a decision was made to sell all groceries for cash only. This was a tremendous innovation at the time, and while not an immediate success, it set the tone for the future of Weis Markets. He was known as an extraordinarily charitable man, and this philosophy became a way of life for his family. He believed you should return a portion of your profits to the communities who were responsible for your success.

(Namesake information courtesy Bucknell World, March 1988)

Weis Center for the Performing Arts

Location

525 Weis Drive