Marcus Center launches $9 million campaign to offset losses, support facility upgrades

Work is underway to improve the seating in the Marcus Center’s Uihlein Hall.

Last updated on October 26th, 2020 at 02:18 pm

The Marcus Performing Arts Center has launched a $9 million campaign to offset losses from the COVID-19 pandemic and support its renovation project.

To date, the center has raised 46% of its “Raise the Curtain Campaign” goal and will continue raising funds over the next two years.

Like performance venues across the state, the Marcus Center has been particularly hard hit by the shutdown this spring and continued capacity restrictions. It reported a 75% revenue loss due to capacity limitations – which are currently capped at 30% – and canceled performances.

Social distancing guidelines have also affected the center’s resident companies, including the Milwaukee Ballet, Florentine Opera, First Stage, Black Arts MKE and the Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra. The center said it has waived all rental fees associated with canceled performances for those organizations. A total of about 700 performances have been canceled from March through December.

Concerts and Broadway series performances won’t return until the Marcus Center can operate at full capacity, the center said.

“As the region’s hub for performing arts and culture, the Marcus Center relies on the support of our patrons and community. This support is needed now more than ever, as we continue to endure the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our organization,” said Kendra Whitlock Ingram, president and chief executive officer of the Marcus Center. “Through the Raise the Curtain Campaign, we will ensure the viability of the Marcus Center for our community and our artists.”

This fall, the Marcus Center kicked off a multi-phased renovation project at its downtown facility. The first phase of the project will make several upgrades to its main performance venue, Uihlein Hall. The project includes adding new seats, increasing public health and safety amenities and enhancing ADA accommodations. The center is also creating a new outdoor public space that will allow for socially-distanced programming.

Those who give between $600 and $5,000 to the campaign will have an opportunity to name a seat in the newly renovated Uihlein Hall.

“We are thrilled to provide a way for our patrons to leave their own legacy on the Marcus Center, through the naming of a new seat in Uihlein Hall,” Whitlock Ingram said. “We are providing a unique opportunity for the community to create a lasting memory that all can see when we return to live performances in the beautiful, newly renovated Uihlein Hall.”

In addition to investments in the physical space, the center is also installing live-streaming technology in all of its performance venues, as well as the Bradley Pavilion, to expand access to audiences across the state.

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Lauren Anderson
Lauren Anderson covers health care, nonprofits, education and insurance for BizTimes. Lauren previously reported on education for the Waukesha Freeman. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she studied journalism, history and African studies. In her free time, Lauren enjoys spending time with family and friends and seeing live music wherever she can.

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