UWM gets $1 million to turn 6th floor of Kenilworth Square East into arts studio

Construction to begin in 2017

The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Last updated on July 3rd, 2019 at 07:13 pm

University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee alumna and local artist Jan Serr and her husband John Shannon are giving $1 million to UWM’s Peck School of the Arts to built and operate an arts studio on the sixth floor of the Kenilworth Square East building south of East North Avenue.

The studio will be called the Jan Serr Studio and will be used for exhibitions, performances, screenings and project development.

The Kenilworth Square East building, located at 1915 E Kenilworth Pl., is a former Ford Motor Company plant that was redeveloped by UWM in 2006. The $68 million project split the facility into two separate buildings with street-level retail — one to serve as student apartments and the other to serve as an auxiliary educational facility for the Peck School of the Arts.

The studio will be located on the top floor of the auxiliary educational facility.

“This will be a creative space rather than simply a performance hall,” Serr said. “A studio is a place where people can develop their craft and ideas can grow. The creative process brings people together, and we hope this space will inspire that process.”

The couple’s contribution will pay for initial renovations, however, UWM is seeking additional money to pay for a second phase of construction on the studio to install projection equipment, seating, theater rigging, lighting and dressing rooms.

Construction on the initial renovations is expected to begin in 2017.

“Jan and John have been tremendous advocates for the Peck School and many arts organizations in Milwaukee,” said Scott Emmons, dean of the Peck School. “This gift will allow us to begin creating a uniquely flexible space that can be utilized by musicians, dancers, filmmakers, actors or visual artists, whether they are from the Peck School or the community. I am thrilled that this space will be named after a UWM alumna who has inspired so many artists.”

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Ben Stanley, former BizTimes Milwaukee reporter.

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