Milwaukee's Lakefront Fireworks

The Best and Worst of Cream City Culture in February

This month’s forecast called for some highs, and lows, on the A&E front

The Good

1) The Florentine Named a New General Director and CEO

In the spring of last year, the Florentine Opera Company announced that William Florescu, its longtime general director, had been accused of sexual harassment and would be stepping down. According to a Feb. 21 press release, the company has named its next leader: “Maggey Oplinger begins her tenure as the company’s seventh General Director on March 1, 2019. She was chosen from a robust national and international field of candidates through a selection process that involved the company’s stakeholders, staff and patrons as well as Milwaukee’s artistic, civic and business leaders.”

Oplinger comes to the Florentine from the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, where she held the titles of Director of Community Partnerships and Director of Shared Experiences.

2) The Milwaukee Film Festival Makes Some Money Moves

Just shy of two years after announcing a major fundraising campaign, the Milwaukee Film Festival has met (actually, exceeded) its $10 million-dollar goal. The organization will use the money to continue restoring the Oriental Theatre – which it took possession of last summer – and bolster its programming.

“We’ve always had an ambitious vision for what Milwaukee Film can become, and we’ve made incredible strides in meeting some pretty big goals,” Artistic Director and CEO Jonathan Jackson said in a statement published to the organization’s website. “The commitment of all of our supporters, and particularly the generosity of our lead donors in this campaign, shows me we can dream even bigger and do more within our community.”

More than 900 donors contributed to the campaign.  

3) The Marcus Center’s Next Season Promises “Non-Stop” Action

The Marcus Center for the Performing Arts is about to turn 50, and we found out this month that it’s evidently intent on celebrating the milestone in a major way.

In October, a touring production of Hamilton will finally tear into town (with all the force, we can presume, of the hurricane that a young Alexander Hamilton experienced while growing up in the Caribbean). But that’s not all! The theater will also be kicking off its season with the critically acclaimed Dear Evan Hansen in September, and staging a production of the perennially popular Lion King in February of 2020. We’re already counting down the days.

The Bad

1) The City’s Fireworks Display Could Go Out without a Bang

We found out earlier this week that the city’s annual Fourth of July fireworks display, which has been a local tradition for nearly fifty years, is in jeopardy. According to the Journal Sentinel reporter Chris Foran, city officials are seeking a new sponsor to cover the event’s $350,000 tab, and they need to find someone by April 1.

U.S. Bank has sponsored the celebration since 2001, but they’re no longer interested in footing the bill. Let’s hope someone else steps forward within the next month.

2) Bud Is Picking Another Bar Fight with Miller

As part of its ongoing push to steal customers away from its rival MillerCoors, Anheuser-Busch has opted to rent out five billboards in the metro Milwaukee area. The billboards, like the ads that Bud aired during the 2019 Super Bowl, blast Miller for using corn syrup in its beer.

It’s hard to imagine they’ll get much traction in Milwaukee, where Miller loyalty has continued to flow through our veins (literally, Miller products undoubtedly contribute to our elevated blood alcohol levels) even after the company relocated its headquarters to Chicago. Still, Bud seems to think it’ll be able to convince local beer drinkers – discerning enough to turn up their noses at corn syrup but not discerning enough to also turn up their noses at Budweiser – to switch drinks.



Lindsey Anderson covers culture for Milwaukee Magazine. Before joining the MilMag team she worked as an editor at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago and wrote freelance articles for ArtSlant and Eater.