The Milwaukee Ballet moved from its former Walker’s Point studios to the Third Ward in September 2019, barely breaking in the 52,000-square-foot Baumgartner Center for Dance before classes and rehearsals shut down in March 2020. The center’s stunning 200-seat We Energies Foundation Performance Studio brings the audience close to the performers without shirking on production value. The state-of-the-art venue, which welcomed limited-capacity live audiences in February, is more than a pandemic stopgap; The Baumgartner Center will continue to host performances by the professional company and its students for the foreseeable future.
This fall, the company will also return to its usual performance home at the newly renovated Marcus Center for the Performing Arts, which hosts national Broadway tours in addition to the Milwaukee Ballet, Black Arts MKE, the Florentine Opera Company and the Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra. The $4 million improvement to Marcus’ Uihlein Hall includes brand new seats, a reconfigured layout adding much needed aisles to the main floor and additional wheelchair seating. As a direct result of the pandemic, the center also installed livestreaming technology in all of its performance spaces to allow patrons to enjoy productions from home.
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One group you won’t see at the Marcus Center anymore is the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra. The first of October marks the grand opening of the Bradley Symphony Center and the MSO’s return to live, public performances after more than 18 months. Virtual audiences got a sneak peek of the newly renovated Warner Grand Theater, a three-year, $90 million endeavor which brought the stunning 1,650-seat movie house back to life after lying dormant for nearly three decades. The ribbon cutting, originally slated for 2020, was delayed by some construction setbacks and the pandemic. It will surely be worth the wait.
Not to be left out, Milwaukee’s visual artists have a new spot for work and play in the Third Ward. The MARN ART + CULTURE HUB opened in March, a 5,500-square-foot facility, operated by Milwaukee Artist Resource Network (MARN), boasting a café, conference center and flexible exhibition halls with high-tech lighting and movable walls. There’s an exhibit of artists who participated in one of the organization’s ongoing MARNSalon mentorship programs on view in the space from Sept. 24-Nov. 2.