Milwaukee Chamber Theatre hits fundraising goal, will proceed with 2023-24 season

Milwaukee Chamber Theatre announced Wednesday that it has reached the first benchmark in its ongoing Sustainability Campaign fundraising effort, achieving more than $1.5 million in pledges for new and increased support for this and the next two fiscal years.

As a result, MCT will proceed with its 2023-24 season, to be announced in late March or early April when the renewal period for season subscribers opens.

“We are full of gratitude and joy in announcing Milwaukee Chamber Theatre has surpassed our first phase fundraising goal yesterday with commitments of $1,514,428,” Marina Krejci, president of the MCT board of trustees, said in a press release. “More than seven hundred individual donors stepped forward to keep MCT going and affirmed the value of a theater committed to the local, and ratified our belief in the vitality that MCT breathes into the greater Milwaukee community.”

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In the face of a projected 35% operating deficit for fiscal year 2023, MCT’s Sustainability Campaign was announced Feb. 14 and is intended to create a stable financial foundation for the company over the next three seasons. Later that month, MCT announced a $150,000 challenge match as part of the Sustainability Campaign to avoid closure outright.

“We could not have done this without the generous challenge match from Caran and Joel Quadracci, Donna and Donald Baumgartner, and the Herzfeld Foundation, each a visionary philanthropist committed to keeping Milwaukee’s arts and culture ecology rich and vibrant,” said Krejci.

Those in the performing arts are still feeling the COVID-19 pandemic’s impacts deeply, as studies project audiences won’t return fully to pre-pandemic levels until later in 2024, Brent Hazelton, artistic director of MCT, said in the press release.

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“Companies without any operating reserves to bridge that gap, like MCT, need time and space to reinvent and adapt to the new marketplace — and for us, creating that space sustainably involved reaching out for help to our community,” said Hazelton, adding that “The amazing response in such an incredibly short period of time is a tremendous positive referendum…and we’re grateful for the opportunity this creates for us to do the hard work that lies ahead to create a truly sustainable institution.”

MCT performs at the Broadway Theatre Center in Milwaukee’s Historic Third Ward and is a member group of the United Performing Arts Fund. Its next production, the world premiere of “HOOPS” by Eliana Pipes with original music by Milwaukee’s own B~Free adapted from The HOOPS Project portrait series by Milwaukee multidisciplinary artist Nicole Acosta, begins performances Friday, March 10 and runs through Sunday, April 2.

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