If you live or work in the Third Ward maybe you saw it. A crowd of people gathered outside Milwaukee Ballet’s new school and rehearsal space on Jackson Street. They were dressed like construction workers, in hard hats and neon vests, but they were brandishing markers instead of power tools. And they were there to sign the last of the steel beams to be installed into the new, 52,000-square-foot facility, which will be called the Baumgartner Center for Dance.
In June, Milwaukee Ballet was able to break ground on the new building, thanks in large part to a $10-million dollar donation from Donna and Donald Baumgartner. “Donald’s first ever contribution to the arts was in the 1970s – and it was a $3,000 gift to Milwaukee Ballet,” Donna says. “It gives us immense pleasure to make this milestone gift more than 40 years later.”
The Baumgartners joined other supporters and staff members at the construction site shortly before the ballet’s annual meeting, where board chair and president Justin Mortara announced that the signing ceremony capped off a record-setting year for the organization, which raked in 2.5 million dollars in ticket sales over the course of its 2017-18 season. “Our strong earned and contributed revenue results this season and ongoing artistic excellence – including six world premieres – underscore our incredible momentum as we work on our new home and our 50th Anniversary year,” he says.
The ballet has already raised $23 of $26 million for its latest capital campaign. And the organization intends to spend much of that money on building and maintaining the new space, which will feature seven dance studios (three more than its current National Avenue location) and will allow the company to expand on its class offerings.
In other words, the ballet’s work today should go a long way toward ensuring that it continues to thrive for many years to come.