Performing Arts Rise with a Matching Gift Challenge

If you mention The Weidner to someone who lived in Green Bay in the ‘90s, they will probably bring up “Phantom of The Opera.” That’s no surprise—the hit musical’s 4-week run in 1997 remains one of the biggest entertainment events in city history. Altogether, 76,054 theatre-goers visited UW-Green Bay’s campus for the show. Among them were Bob and Carrie Arnold.

The Arnolds are Green Bay natives and long-time UW-Green Bay supporters. For them, The Weidner was a connecting point to the university. They eagerly anticipated the new performing arts center before it opened in 1993. They contributed to The Weidner’s original seat-naming campaign in their children’s names. They saw “Phantom,” “Miss Saigon,” and more in the ‘90s, and they fell in love with the character of the place. Now the Arnolds are lending their support to The Weidner’s renewed growth. With a $50,000 matching gift pledge, Bob and Carrie are helping the arts flourish at UW-Green Bay and encouraging others to do the same.

In the early days of The Weidner, the Arnolds remember an energy there, the excitement of the crowd buzzing like an electric wire. They felt that energy dissipate when Broadway shows stopped touring through the venue. Now they feel like The Weidner is back on track—an improvement they attribute largely to Kelli Strickland’s leadership as executive director since she assumed the role in 2017.

“We were really excited about their energy and what their vision was, and we were wondering how we could help,” said Carrie. The Arnolds originally planned to make a gift of $10,000, but they realized a larger pledge and a matching gift challenge might encourage others to reengage with The Weidner. So far, it has brought in over $30,000 in support.

The Arnolds couldn’t be more pleased. Now (mostly) retired from successful careers—Bob as president of Vehicle Security Innovators and Carrie as Chaplain at the Brown County Jail Ministries—the Arnolds continue to seek ways to make an impact through philanthropy. They hope their gift to The Weidner will help the performing arts center continue on its path to become a “showpiece of the town,” and a place for the Green Bay community to come together. Moreover, they want to encourage further community support. “Money—pardon the expression—is like manure,” Bob said, “It doesn’t do any good unless you spread it around to help other things grow.”

Gifts to The Weidner can be made at

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