Milwaukee Artist Resource Network awarded $3 million grant

Plans to open retail storefront, art gallery

Last updated on July 23rd, 2019 at 12:15 pm

The Milwaukee Artist Resource Network plans to use a $3 million grant to expand its operational capacity and open a new retail storefront for emerging artists.

The grant was awarded by an anonymous fund at the Greater Milwaukee Foundation.

“I firmly believe this remarkable grant is a game changer for the entire creative economy here in southeast Wisconsin.” said Mal Montoya, president and chief executive officer of MARN. “The significance of this anonymous $3 million donation goes well beyond the advancement of our core operations. Bringing this level of funding to a community-based arts organization sends a clear message: ‘there is an arts and culture renaissance currently underway here in Milwaukee.’”

The nonprofit, which is based on the sixth floor of the Marshall building, 207 E. Buffalo St., in Milwaukee’s Third Ward, plans to create a new facility that will include an art gallery, event space and retail storefront in the neighborhood. The organization is considering several potential locations.

“For example, it hasn’t been feasible to consider a ground floor retail presence for local emerging artists here in the Third Ward,” Montoya said. “Perhaps MARN can change that. This grant will allow us to place more emphasis on resources needed to bring local artists into the creative economy.”

MARN was founded in 2000 and provides educational and professional resources, and promotes collaboration among literacy, performing and visual artists. With the grant, the organization now has 10 years of operational funding ensured, it said.

“This is exactly what I’ve always imagined MARN could be,” said Pamela Anderson, board chair of MARN. “This gives us the ability to expand programming and services to our diverse range of artists and, more importantly, increase opportunities and exposure for our members.”

MARN is among several organizations that are working to put a spotlight on Milwaukee’s arts and culture, particularly ahead of the 2020 Democratic National Convention. A new organization, Imagine MKE, plans to formally launch in September, with the goal of establishing Milwaukee as a “creative hub and a world-class arts city.” No Studios, the creative arts hub that opened last year at 1037 W. McKinley Ave., also plans to leverage the national exposure that the DNC will bring, chief operating officer Lisa Caesar has said.

MARN said it plans to use the DNC as a springboard for local artists.

“In the spirit of this remarkable gift, I will be exploring every opportunity to maximize opportunities for our creative communities,” Montoya said. “Not just as a ramp up to the convention, but for the years to come.”

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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.