MMAC task force says more public funds needed for cultural and entertainment assets

The Marcus Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Milwaukee

Last updated on July 7th, 2019 at 02:43 pm

A 50-member task force of regional community leaders, convened by the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce, concludes that additional public funding is needed to preserve and protect the region’s signature cultural and entertainment assets, including the Milwaukee Art Museum, the Milwaukee Public Museum, the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts and the Milwaukee County Zoo.

Click here to read the report from the task force.

The MMAC is pushing the need to maintain the region’s cultural and entertainment assets as a key strategy to compete with other region’s nationally and globally for top talent. That is expected to be a major theme of the MMAC’s All Member Meeting, which will be held tonight at the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts. Gov. Scott Walker will speak at the event.

The Marcus Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Milwaukee
The Marcus Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Milwaukee

Research by the Public Policy Forum demonstrated an increase in deferred maintenance and rising capital needs for the region’s top cultural institutions while at the same time, public funding has been in steady decline.

“We believe we need to move deliberately to ensure the Milwaukee region remains a destination for talent and capital investment,” said Jay Williams, task force co-chair. “Our report highlights a wide range of opinions to the challenging facts of declining investment, but ultimately, we must act on this challenge or risk losing significant amenities that make greater Milwaukee great.”

“With the (Milwaukee) Bucks ready to break ground (on a new arena), now is the time to move forward on a path toward sustainability for metro Milwaukee’s arts and culture,” said MMAC President Tim Sheehy. “While not as headline-grabbing as the arena issue, this threat to our cultural institutions deserves just as much consideration. Since 2001, the allocation of tax dollars for county-owned cultural facilities has been cut by more than 40 percent in inflation-adjusted dollars. Meanwhile, the new generation of talent is demanding high-quality amenities. This quiet crisis is more than a cultural issue – it’s a threat to our region’s job base. We anticipate that this process will require significant time and energy, but for our region to succeed, we have a responsibility to sustain and strengthen our competitive advantages.”

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Andrew is the editor of BizTimes Milwaukee. He joined BizTimes in 2003, serving as managing editor and real estate reporter for 11 years. A University of Wisconsin-Madison graduate, he is a lifelong resident of the state. He lives in Muskego with his wife, Seng, their son, Zach, and their dog, Hokey. He is an avid sports fan and is a member of the Muskego Athletic Association board of directors.

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