Marcus Performing Arts Center

Face of New Arts Programming

Marcus Performing Arts Center; (Left to right) Anthony Smith, Director of Community Partnerships; Nadia Olker, Director of Venue Rentals; Jared Duymovic, Vice President of Programming & Engagement; Mia Vilanova, Programming and Rental Specialist; John Hassig, Director of Programming & Education; Photo by Linda Smallpage, Boutique Photographer

For over five decades, the Marcus Performing Arts Center (MPAC) has been at the pinnacle of Milwaukee’s performing arts scene. Now the venue is expanding its programming to become a gathering place for our city.

“Marcus Performing Arts Center is not just about what happens on stage,” says Jared Duymovic, the vice president of programming and engagement. “It’s about programming that everyone in our community can experience. That means having more content that appeals to different people, and it means finding new opportunities to offer workshops, educational experiences, and really activating our amazing spaces.”

For just one recent example, MPAC hosted Rainbow Summer this past July. The center’s outdoor grounds were home to an eye-catching art installation, Evanescent by Atelier Sisu along with vendors, food and a lineup of free live performances spanning all sorts of genres and styles, from a Latin roots band to a punk rock marching band. “Someone could come to each of the five nights and find something completely different to enjoy each time,” Duymovic says.

One crucial part of the effort to expand programming is MPAC’s Racial Equity, Diversity and Inclusion initiative (REDI). The initiative’s goal is to create a more inclusive, representative and equitable community at the performing arts center. MPAC is aiming to achieve 50% BIPOC representation among its leadership, board, staff and volunteers, as well as making financial investments in REDI initiatives and programming compositionally diverse shows. One such instance was April’s Nrityagram Dance Ensemble residency. In addition to the public performance, the world-renowned Indian dance ensemble also held workshops, private discussions, a student matinee and more.

This season, MPAC is co-producing First Stage’s Dream, Quickie! Dream, based on the children’s book by MPAC Cultural Ambassador (and Packers legend) Donald Driver. Among many shows, it’s also putting on impressive dance and jazz performances throughout the year, including performances by Hubbard Street Dance and Dance Theater of Harlem, as well as Pat Metheny, Delfeayo Marsalis and Cécile McLorin Salvant.

“I love talking about our upcoming shows and events,” Duymovic says. “Because there will always be something to get hyped about; there will always be something exciting happening at Marcus Center.”

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