PRESIDENT'S LETTER - WINTER 2022
We’re just about halfway through our season, and I wanted to provide you with some updates happening at the Marcus Performing Arts Center (MPAC):
PRESIDENT'S LETTER - WINTER 2022
MPAC’s Cultural Ambassador: Donald Driver
Last summer, the Marcus Performing Arts Center named football legend and community leader Donald Driver as its first ever Cultural Ambassador. Donald’s commitment to community engagement and love for the performing arts aligns so well with the MPAC’s mission to make the arts more accessible to the entire community and our ongoing commitment to advancing racial equity, diversity and inclusion (REDI) through the performing arts. As part of this four-year partnership, Donald will work with our team at the Marcus Performing Arts Center to create educational, community and youth content, and provide access to MPAC programming to underserved communities and student groups sponsored by the Donald Driver Foundation.
Donald’s work as our Cultural Ambassador is well underway! He had a busy fall promoting our return to Broadway with HAMILTON and recently interviewed jazz great and film/opera composer Terence Blanchard as part of our Artists Unscripted video series. Driver and Blanchard discussed Blanchard’s career, advice for young artists, and struggles he has faced as an African American performer. Their conversation was insightful and particularly valuable for the next generation of BIPOC artists – we can’t wait to share what’s next in this series of behind-the-scenes conversations with artists on the MPAC Presents season.
Watch the video series at marcuscenter.org/cultural-ambassador-program.
In March, Donald will engage with Hiplet Dance Company during their short residency on the MPAC Presents season. Hiplet fuses classical pointe technique with African, Latin, Hip-Hop and urban dance styles that are rooted in communities of color. Donald will interview the dancers and maybe even learn a few new dance moves!
We could not be more excited to be working with Donald Driver to promote the power of the arts and look forward to how he will help us engage with and build bridges between the diverse members of our community.
Arts Education and Community Engagement at the Marcus Performing Arts Center
This season has been filled with extraordinary arts educational experiences for students and adults in the Milwaukee region. With the return of HAMILTON in October, we were delighted to host a dance masterclass led by HAMILTON cast member Avery Sobczak and 75 Milwaukee high school students. Watching this class reminded me how difficult and complex the choreography is from this show. Due to COVID restrictions, we had to livestream the instructor from another theater in the venue, while the students performed in the Bradley Pavilion. It worked well, and students had a great time. MPS students test out their best moves with a lead Hamilton dancer in a one-on-one master class.
Earlier this month, we launched our first ever Student Matinee Series. Hip Hop/Classical Duo, Black Violin, kicked off the series with an epic performance for more than 1,500 students in elementary through high school. Black Violin had the students out of their seats and experiencing a truly exciting performance.
We also welcomed the renowned Ballet Folklórico de México de Amalia Hernandez to MPAC, and Milwaukee for the first time ever. In addition to their extraordinary performance, members of the company lead two community dance masterclasses and engaged with the audience in a post-performance talkback. It was a real thrill to experience this performance with so many audience members singing along in Spanish, cheering “Viva México!” during one of the musical numbers, and to experience nearly the entire talkback spoken in Spanish.
Broadway Continues to Shine at the Marcus Center
We’ve presented three Broadway productions since the start of the season and audiences continue to attend in large numbers and have responded well to our COVID protocols. Nearly 60,000 attended our first three Broadway productions of the season. Recent audience surveys indicated that 9 out of 10 audiences members expressed positive feedback about MPAC’s communications regarding COVID policies and procedures. More than 80% of audience members surveyed say they have received booster shots. We’re so grateful to all of you who have attended performances this season and want to once again reassure you that our team is taking great care in ensuring a safe and fun theater-going experience.
Thank you for your continued support of the Marcus Performing Arts Center and I look forward to seeing you at more performances this season!
Kendra Whitlock Ingram
President and CEO
Marcus Performing Arts Center