The Milwaukee Chamber Theatre
announced Tuesday a $150,000 challenge match as part of its ongoing Sustainability Campaign launched earlier this month to provide the financial foundation necessary for the theater company to avoid closure.
More than 500 individual donors have contributed two-thirds of MCT’s February fundraising goal, but more support is needed, said Brent Hazelton, artistic director of MCT, and Marina Krejci, president of the board of trustees, in a joint statement.
“Even with that strong declaration of MCT’s value to Milwaukee, it was clear we were going to fall short of our target without some significant help from outside our current family of generous supporters,” read the statement.
Founded in 1975 by Montgomery Davis and Ruth Schudson and guided until 2020 by Michael Wright and Kirsten Finn, MCT spends 90% of all its expense dollars in Milwaukee, according to the statement. Over the last three seasons under Hazelton’s leadership, MCT has produced events including the recent “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”, “Misery,” “Where Did We Sit on the Bus?”, “Indecent” and “The Island,” among others.
Leading the Sustainability Campaign are Caran and Joel Quadracci through the Windhover Foundation, with support from Donna and Donald Baumgartner and the Herzfeld Foundation
“While Joel and I are new to Milwaukee Chamber Theatre, we believe in the importance of the arts in our communities,” said Caran Quadracci. “We want to help create this bridge to the future so that MCT can return to its mission of enriching the artistic community of Milwaukee.”
Over the last three years, MCT achieved averages of at least 50% of all season artists identifying as either Black, Indigenous, and People of Color or female, in addition to founding the Milwaukee Black Theater Festival, according to a news release. All artists and staff are compensated above the Milwaukee County Living Wage Standard.
“Milwaukee Chamber Theater’s nearly 50 years of theater have shaped the region’s theater scene to the prominence of what it is today,” said Peggy Williams-Smith, president and CEO of VISIT Milwaukee. “To lose this institution would silence the unique voices that use its stage as a medium to share stories across generations and cultures.”
Milwaukee Chamber Theatre is receiving fundraising pledges
through close of business on Tuesday, March 7.
“This matching challenge shows vision, support, and belief in MCT. But in order for MCT to move forward, the challenge must be met. Every gift that arrives from here until next Tuesday will count toward meeting this match,” Hazelton said. “Our community has brought us so far already, from no path forward to the verge of survival and sustainability — we hope that it can bring MCT and its artists the rest of the way home.”