Endowment fund created to jumpstart planning of new Kenosha performing arts center

Retired teacher gives $100,000 to create fund

Grace Kolakowski with Kenosha Community Foundation Executive Director Robert Schneider.

Last updated on July 3rd, 2019 at 07:12 pm

An endowment fund was recently created through the Kenosha Community Foundation to support the planning and construction of a new performing arts center in Kenosha.

An initial gift of $100,000 from Grace Kolakowski, a Kenosha resident and retired teacher, established the fund.

Grace Kolakowski with Kenosha Community Foundation Executive Director Robert Schneider.

“The Kolakowski Fund is intended to provide seed money that will allow the community to research and develop a plan for the construction of a new facility,” said Robert Schneider, executive director of the foundation.

Kolakowski, 88, said she wanted to give back to the community, and after brainstorming for a few months, she decided a space is needed to host the community’s performing arts.

“We have a lot going on for visual arts, but very little for the performing arts, for drama, for dance, for opera,” she said. “And so I thought, ‘That’s it. That’s what I’m going to donate for.’”

Kolakowski said it’s the right time to invest in arts and culture, as the area is enjoying an upsurge in business activity.

“I thought this was a good time,” she said. “We’re getting so many businesses. We’ve got Foxconn coming here. We’ve got Amazon. We’ve got Uline. There are a lot of people coming in this area. I think it’s just right. We need culture, especially in this time. Culture is needed to raise the spirits of the people and also for future of the children.”

Kolakowski said a city committee is being established to help develop plans for a new performing arts center.

The committee will help determine a location for the facility, Kolakowksi said. She envisions the facility seating between 800 and 1,200 people, saying the community needs a larger venue to accommodate the performances of local artists and to draw in artists from other areas.

The Rhode Center for the Arts in Kenosha has three performance spaces, the largest of which seats 320. The Racine Theatre Guild seats 378.

Schneider said Kenosha Mayor John Antaramian has “expressed support for the creation of the fund and the initiative.” Antaramian could not be reached for comment.

Moving forward, the fund will be used to support the construction and operation of the center, Schneider said.

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