Imagine MKE’s enthusiasm for its mission can be summed up by the opening sentence on its website: “Let’s Imagine Milwaukee as the world-class arts and culture city that it is.”
Three years, 27 planning meetings, and the efforts of over 100 local artists, cultural leaders, and business people have resulted in a non-profit organization that hopes to be the cultural hub of the city. Longtime residents may remember earlier attempts: The Cultural Alliance and The Creative Alliance were similar Milwaukee-based organizations that hoped to do the same thing. Both groups did strong work but ultimately disbanded. However, their efforts did help lay the groundwork for Imagine MKE.
Katie Heil is the chair of the board and the person who did a lot of the initial heavy lifting to get stakeholders on board. David Lee is the newly appointed chief executive director of the organization and says Imagine MKE will be a tide that raises all boats.
"We want to ensure that artists have the support they need to live, work, show, and perform. We want to make sure our neighborhoods are thriving, and we want to make sure we're advancing public policies that help to make all of that stuff happen. We want to work to change the narrative of our city."