PRESIDENT'S LETTER - FALL 2021
As summer ends and we approach a return to a full season of performances, I wanted to provide you with some updates happening at the Marcus Performing Arts Center (MPAC):
Broadway is back in Milwaukee!
It’s hard to believe that it’s been more than 18 months since the Marcus Performing Arts Center last presented a Broadway show. The MPAC board, staff, and I are incredibly excited to welcome back audiences to the Johnson Financial Group Broadway at the Marcus Performing Arts Center, with the return of HAMILTON. This will be my first Broadway show as President and CEO of the Marcus Performing Arts Center, and it’s hard to not to feel a bit emotional about it. The last 18 months have been difficult for so many businesses, but it has been particularly challenging for those of us in the arts and entertainment industry. We were one of the first industries to close due to the pandemic and are one of the last to fully reopen. I cannot thank you enough for your support through this difficult time. I hope you will join us for many performances this season so we can celebrate together the magic and power of live performing arts.
New Arts & Culture Series at the Marcus Performing Arts Center
This fall, we are launching a diverse lineup of programming with our arts and cultural series including three new series -- Jazz, Dance, and National Geographic LIVE -- as well as an expanded MPAC Presents lineup of nationally and internationally touring artists. Marcus Center Presents includes jazz legends such as Dianne Reeves, Terence Blanchard and David Sanborn; as well as renowned dance companies like Alvin Ailey Dance Theatre and Pilobolus. These artists and more represent some of the world’s best in the performing arts and we’re excited to bring them to Milwaukee. As part of our work to advance racial equity, diversity and inclusion at the Marcus Performing Arts Center, we have committed to present a minimum of 30% BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) artists throughout the season. This season, BIPOC artists represent more than 50% of the artists we’re presenting. We believe the artists we present on our stages should represent the diversity of our community and this season embodies our mission.
Visit here for more information about MPAC Presents.
Updates on the Marcus Performing Arts Center Campus Master Plan
The venue closure, as a result of the pandemic, provided us with an unexpected opportunity to complete indoor elements of the Campus Master Plan that were slated for several years in the future. When it became clear that the MPAC would be closed for many months, we evaluated what projects we could complete that would not only take advantage of the venue closure, but also enhance the patron experience by helping build audience confidence and comfort returning to live performance. As a result of generous donors, Donald and Donna Baumgartner and an anonymous donor, we were able to renovate Uihlein Hall seating. When you return to performances in Uihlein Hall, you will experience more aisles on the orchestra level, significantly more wheel-chair accessible seating in multiple locations, new seats and new flooring. All of these upgrades enhance the accessibility and the performance experience for audiences.
This fall and early winter we’ll also start the process of updating outdoor spaces in and around the Marcus Performing Arts Center. We will soon begin removing the temporary fencing enclosing the outdoor performance space at the Marcus Performing Arts Center. Put in place for the health, safety and security of patrons ahead of a season packed with outdoor concerts and activities, the fencing provided an exciting opportunity for local artists to beautify the space while depicting their vision of “togetherness” and summer in Milwaukee. In the coming weeks, we will be replacing pedestrian paving in the plaza area, on the southeast area of the grounds, as well as the Riverwalk area immediately to the north of Peck Pavilion. Additional pedestrian paving will occur in early spring.
It was a thrill this summer to see our outdoor grounds activated with a variety of community-based programs: free programs for kids and families in Peck Pavilion, Barre Milwaukee workout, the return of the Marcus Performing Arts Center’s Rainbow Summer concert series, and Heroes Day – a new event honoring veterans and first responders. All of these programs help to strengthen our commitment to inclusive and accessible performing arts programs for everyone in the Milwaukee community. We will also be taking a fresh look at the Campus Master Plan this winter to determine the next phases we plan to complete over the next 3 to 5 years. Although the order of completion for the projects might change, our commitment to an inclusive, accessible and welcoming space remains our focus.
Thank you for your continued support of the Marcus Performing Arts Center and I look forward to seeing you performances this season!