About Us

Mission and Vision

Christian Perspective.  The Master in Master Arts is Christ.   As an organization, we are explicitly committed to performance art that is glorifying to God.  This influences the scripts we choose, the venues in which we perform, the classes that we offer, and the way in which we conduct all of our activities.

Quality Performance.  Our standard of excellence is formed by our desire to honor our Creator and by the rigors of maintaining artistic credibility in the community.  This standard affects every aspect of the artistic process—training, rehearsals, performances, and management.

A Nurturing Community.  Both experienced and emerging artists are pro-actively encouraged and supported in the development of their talents.  An inclusive, community atmosphere guides our training and production activities.  

Church and Community.  Master Arts seeks to be a bridge between the arts and the church, providing training, resources, and expertise in drama.  We partner with other organizations and ministry efforts in the area.


The idea for a Christ-Centered community theater in Grand Rapids began when Pris McDonald was working at a local Christian university in 1984. She and others realized that there were few options for students to continue practicing their dramatic arts after graduation. They decided to start with a simple touring Christmas show called “Emmanuel.” It was a hit, and the following year, in 1985, Master Arts Theatre was officially established.

“Community theatre provides an opportunity for young actors to grow in discipleship, grow in their craft, and serve the church and community with art that glorifies God,” said Pris. At the time, integrating faith and the arts was still a new and somewhat untrusted concept. Many churches didn’t know what to do with a person who had talent in theatre. Pris helped educate the community on what theatre could be: a powerful way to share God’s story through others’ stories. She understood the power of drama, which can “take the experience of life, compress it, and amplify it, all in a moment.”

Pris and a few colleagues started working on Master Arts Theatre out of a board member’s basement. They put together advertisements for shows, planned performances, and set up rehearsals. In 1987, Pris became Master Arts Theatre’s first executive director. She maintained that role for almost thirty years before transitioning to the role of artistic director in 2015. During her tenure, Master Arts occupied many different venues before finding a home in our current space on 77th street in 2001.

Since then, Master Arts Theatre has continued to produce high quality, intimate theatre from a Christian perspective. Audiences are continually impressed with the quality of our productions, especially given our humble space. We are glad to be a part of the legacy of Christian Theatre in Grand Rapids, and to be a part of God’s work in the arts in West Michigan.

Pris McDonald, founder and former Executive & Artistic Director.

Our 2017 production of Book of Job, one of Master Arts earliest shows, and a favorite of Pris McDonald.