Lauren Sigfusson

When museums, galleries and theaters close that means painters, dancers and musicians don’t have a place to perform or a source of income.

Dozens of them talked about the challenges they face in a video conference Tuesday arranged by the Wisconsin Arts Board. The meeting included 15 arts organizations to help brainstorm ways for artists to survive the pandemic. Dozens of artists took turns speaking.

Courtesy of Parking Lot Theatre

How we seek entertainment has changed drastically since the coronavirus pandemic began. Seeing the performing arts and going to movies isn’t physically safe to do, but many of us still want to engage with the arts in person.

Activists Anne Koller and Manny Lara were concerned about how the lockdown would impact Milwaukee’s creative communities and they wanted to find a safe way to enjoy the arts.

Courtesy of the Marcus Performing Arts Center

The Marcus Performing Arts Center has been a staple not just for downtown Milwaukee, but for the greater community. Outside of being a venue to see live performances, its outreach and community engagement efforts reach people of all ages.

This mission is in part what drew Kendra Whitlock Ingram to the position of president and CEO of the Marcus Center. She replaces Paul Matthews, who served just over two decades as its leader.


Since the pandemic began, many of us have been glued to our couches binge-watching TV. And for fans of RuPaul’s Drag Race it’s been a good time to be stuck at home. The series, which features a cast of drag queens competing for the title of “America’s Next Drag Superstar,” premiered its 12th season as shutdowns began to sweep through American cities.

Lubo Ivanko /

Theaters, like other public gathering spaces, are closed. Local companies, like the Milwaukee Repertory Theater, have found creative ways to pay homage to planned productions and keep people engaged with their company.

Still, without any staged shows, the Milwaukee Rep's behind-the-scenes team has been left without any sets to build, props to create, or costumes to design. So they’ve found a way to put their skills to use outside of the theater.

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Milwaukee: A Hub For Art Storage?

Feb 20, 2020
Courtesy of Guardian Fine Art Services

While many of us will never own a Picasso or a Rembrandt, we probably have collections of artworks or objects that are valuable to us. Most of us also have family papers and photographs that have sentimental value — and we might even own a piece or two of antique furniture. How we handle and store these items can keep them safe for future generations or allow them to deteriorate and become trash.

Unless playwrights are already well known, most of them have trouble convincing a theater company to produce their new work. Audiences are often reluctant to see something brand new and most theaters operate on such a tight budget that it's difficult for them to take the financial risk.

Courtesy of Oliver Bestul

Two graduates of the University of Minnesota are nearly half way through their year-long tour of the United States. But they’re not just sightseeing — along the way, they're performing a play that one of them penned.

Oliver Bestul wrote The Birding Body. It’s a bird-themed tongue-in-cheek murder mystery. Veronica Swanson illustrated a booklet that accompanies the play and it allows for audience members to play along as the characters try to figure out who-done-it. 

Courtesy of Greater Equity 2030

Milwaukee nonprofit Greater Together has announced a challenge to Milwaukee's creative industry to hire at least 1,600 minority employees by 2030. The project, called Greater Equity 2030, will be in part led by Ken Hanson, who founded Greater Together to promote diversity, equity and inclusion. 

The initiative will team up with Milwaukee Public Schools to organize summer internship programs for historically underrepresented groups. 

Michael Nye

Just past the front desk of the Milwaukee Public Library’s Central Branch on West Wisconsin Avenue, there’s a hallway you have to walk through to get to the stacks. Through the end of November, that hallway will be lined with a series of striking black and white photographic portraits.

Matt Winkelmeyer / Getty Images

Although Mandy Patinkin may be best known for his role as Inigo Montoya in The Princess Bride, the performer’s life has been characterized less by vengeance and far more by his humanitarianism. In addition to his career on Broadway, in Hollywood, and on television, Patinkin has dedicated time to working with refugees and underprivileged Americans — including kids in his hometown, Chicago.

Courtesy of Kate Baldwin

Broadway star and Tony Award nominee Kate Baldwin may live and work in New York City now, but she grew up in Milwaukee. A graduate of Shorewood High School, it was there where Baldwin met the late Barbara Gensler and became involved in the school’s acclaimed theater program.

Skylight Music Theatre's new artistic director is Michael Unger. The New York City theater and opera director has worked on stages from Los Angeles to Russia, yet he sees something unique in the Skylight. 

Emily Files

The MPS Board is expected to consider a proposal this fall that would raise minimum music requirements for schools. The proposal is the culmination of a year-long effort by teachers to increase student access to music education. 

On a recent morning, Ronald Reagan High School teacher Erica Breitbarth was leading her chamber choir students in a rehearsal of Edward Elgar’s 'As Torrents in Summer.'

Imagine MKE Dreams Big

Aug 27, 2019
Imagine MKE

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.”