Capital Campaign
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Things To Know About Our New Center

» Milwaukee Rep will construct an entirely new complex on the footprint of our existing space. All areas, except the Stackner Cabaret, will undergo a complete transformation.

» The Stackner Cabaret, renovated in the summer of 2018, will not have any significant updates as part of this campaign.

» Operations and performances will not cease during construction. It is anticipated that two of the three theater spaces will remain open at all times and Milwaukee Rep is investigating partnering with other venues during the project as construction will be phased over 2–3 years.

» In addition to new performance venues and lobbies, the project will include creation of The Herzfeld Foundation Education & Engagement Center.

» The Sandra and William Haack Grand Lobby will unite all three of our performance spaces as well as all of our other public spaces. It will be a beautifully open and cascading lobby with entrances on the ground level from Wells Street and the Associated Bank River Center.

» The campaign goal is estimated at $75 million and we have raised $54 million as of May 2023.

» To learn more about the features of the new Associated Bank Theater Center click here.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What do you expect to achieve with this campaign?

Milwaukee Rep is committed to attracting world renowned artists, producing the highest quality art, and staying ahead of theatrical trends. Enhanced facilities will ensure we attract top talent and remain one of the top theater companies in the nation.

In addition, the campaign will allow us to continue its vital work of building new audiences and community partnerships with a dedicated space designed intentionally to improve the quality of its educational programming which provides transformational experiences to over 20,000 students annually.

Across the Milwaukee Rep’s complex, we will be able to reconfigure open spaces with new seating configurations and other technology upgrades, improving access and ensuring an equitable experience for all.

Why now?

It is imperative, now more than ever, that our programming ensures equity and promotes positive change in our community. Theater transforms lives and collectively changes its broader community by telling stories that help us create our society. It’s been more than 35 years since Milwaukee Rep asked the community for a major investment in its facilities. Today, Milwaukee Rep can no longer adequately support its growth without jeopardizing its future. Already we are spending over a $1 million a year on maintaining our current facility. Soon those costs will escalate on top of escalating risk and costs if we delay.

How long will the renovation take, and will the theatre shut down during construction?

Construction will begin when adequate funds are raised. Given the inflationary environment and the urgent needs of our building, starting soon is critical to avoid cost overruns and operational challenges. Operations and performances will not cease during construction. It is anticipated that two of the three theater spaces will remain open at all times, and Milwaukee Rep is investigating partnering with other venues during the project as the renovation will be phased over 2–3 years.

What is the Campaign’s financial goal? How will you ensure the building stays maintained once completed?

Based on current conceptual design by Eppstein Uhen Architects, Milwaukee Rep estimates the projection will cost $75 million dollars. Once completed, the building will be maintained by funds collected annual as a modest per-ticket fee for building upkeep and maintenance.

Given so many pressing needs in the community, why should resources be given to this project?

Theaters have been instruments of civilization since ancient times, because storytelling is a universal means of building culture, teaching character and developing engaged citizens. This is reflected in our mission, which calls us to “create positive change in our community” through our theatrical endeavors.

Today, we are one of the largest providers of performing arts and arts education in the Midwest serving more than 300,000 patrons annually including 20,000 students with programs focused on literacy, critical thinking and social-emotional learning. As society has become more fragmented, studies indicate that theater is key to developing empathy and understanding.

By sharing in stories told through the experiences of others unlike ourselves, we build a fuller understanding of what it means to be human. In turn, this builds character pillars, such as respect, fairness, caring and citizenship. Additionally, through acting and rehearsing, students build communication skills, learn to work collaboratively in teams, and practice self-discipline in terms of planning time and meeting deadlines. As we envision the future of Milwaukee Rep, our productions and programs are not only key to our success, but to the success of our region.

Building Renderings – Updated May 2023

Click on an image below for a larger view of initial renderings of the Associated Bank Theater Center.