Keith Mardak, Mary Vandenberg give $5 million for Milwaukee Youth Arts Center expansion

Keith Mardak and Mary Vandenberg

The Milwaukee Youth Arts Center has received another multi-million-dollar donation toward its $23 million capital campaign for its campus expansion.

Milwaukee-based philanthropists Keith Mardak and Mary Vandenberg recently gave $5 million for the project, which will add new rehearsal halls and studios and upgrade the main stage hall at the 325 W. Walnut St. center.

In recognition of the gift, MYAC’s main facility will be named the Mardak|Vandenberg Building.

Mardak retired last year as chairman and chief executive officer of sheet music publisher Hal Leonard LLC; Vandenberg was formerly vice president of business affairs for the company.

“Through the great work of both First Stage and Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra, MYAC is opening a door for a diverse population of young people in Milwaukee to develop their talents and  build a life-long appreciation for the performing arts,” Mardak said. “We’re excited to contribute to this expansion for students to enjoy for years to come.”

The renovation involves repurposing 42,000 square feet of underused space in the lower level of the building to add two new rehearsal halls, six studios and six small group instruction rooms, and renovating the Goodman Mainstage Hall and Annex.

Mardak and Vandenberg also donated three works of art highlighting artists from around the world to MYAC. The pieces – “An Old Song Without Words,” a painting by William Verplanck Birney; “The Big Round Sound,” a sculpture by Wisconsin-based Richard Taylor; and a sculpture by Zimbabwean artist Samuel Tichafa Masakwa – will be displayed at the center.

Mardak and Vandenberg were both charitable donors to the original Milwaukee Youth Arts Center and have been principal program partners. The couple are also longtime supporters of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee, having established the Mardak Center for Administration and Training, the Daniels/Mardak Boys & Girls Club,  the Vandenberg Center for the Arts at the Fitzsimmons Boys & Girls Club, and MarVan Scholars. They also provide funding for college scholarships to Boys & Girls Clubs members through All-In Milwaukee.

MYAC earlier this summer received a $3 million donation from the Burke Foundation for its campus expansion. Its new commons area will be named after the late Richard Burke, the former Trek Bicycle Corp. chairman and a founding philanthropist for the organization, in recognition of the gift.

The MYAC campus consists of two buildings near the intersection of West Walnut Street and Vel R. Phillips Avenue: the main building at 325 W. Walnut St. and another building across the street at 1702 Vel Phillips Ave.

The expanded and renovated facility on Walnut Street is set to open Oct. 5, which marks phase 1 of the campaign. To date, the campaign has raised $14.74 million. Phase 2 will involve renovating the Vel Phillips Avenue building to create additional education and community engagement space.

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Lauren Anderson covers health care, nonprofits and education for BizTimes. Lauren previously reported on education for the Waukesha Freeman. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she studied journalism. In her free time, Lauren enjoys hiking, kayaking, and seeing live music.

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