Renovated Milwaukee Youth Arts Center to honor former Trek chairman Richard Burke

Kyra Mathias, Brook Wisniewski and Chloe Lee celebrate the groundbreaking for the MYAC expansion project.

Milwaukee Youth Arts Center will name a new commons area in its facility after the late Richard Burke, the former Trek Bicycle Corp. chairman and a founding philanthropist for the organization.

The new Burke Commons, which is part of a larger renovation and expansion of the center at 325 W. Walnut St., will recognize the Burke Foundation’s $3 million gift to the organization’s capital campaign.

MYAC is in the middle of a $23 million campaign to fund the renovation project, which includes 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 upgrading its main stage hall on the facility’s main level.

In addition to providing $3 million to the current campaign, the Burke Foundation was a leading donor in the creation of MYAC in the early 2000s.

“It’s extremely rewarding to have the Commons named after my father,” said Kathy Burke, Richard (Dick) Burke’s daughter and member of the MYAC board of directors. “He had a strong commitment to education, service and the next generation leadership development and was instrumental in making the Milwaukee Youth Arts Center a reality 16 years ago. Having this newly constructed space in his memory not only pays tribute to his generosity, but it also recognizes his commitment to bettering the lives of our Milwaukee youth as we continue to inspire the next generation.”

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.

The Burke Foundation also supports MYAC’s founding partners, First Stage and the Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra. Funding from the foundation helped First Stage and MYSO create Community Partnership Programs, which provide arts programing and access to young people who face limited opportunities due to financial, transportation, equitable access and logistical challenges. Since 2004, The Burke Foundation has contributed more than $15 million to MYAC, First Stage and MYSO.

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