Milwaukee Theater District launched; uniting city’s live entertainment

A handful of Milwaukee venues and performing arts groups will share the stage, hoping to market the city’s arts scene nationally.

The Tourism Economy estimates that visitors to the nine existing attractions, including the Riverside Theater, spend $400 million in Milwaukee each year.

The Milwaukee Theater District announced on Wednesday, Nov. 30, that it hopes to stop all public shows, despite some opposition to the two new buildings in the Deer District earlier this year.

On one stage, nine independent theaters, five performance groups and three supporting nonprofit leaders pulled back the curtain on Milwaukee’s newest attraction and more than a century of arts and entertainment.

“There’s a lot of opportunity for people in Milwaukee, and frankly people outside of Milwaukee, to come here and see a show,” Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson said.

The Milwaukee Theater District is a unified organization in one central location, including a new website to help fill theaters of all types.

“The thought process is to elevate all these places,” said Peggy Williams-Smith, who visited Milwaukee.

These areas are recovering from the pandemic.

Earlier this year, Turner Hall objected to two FPC Live venues proposed across the street on the former Bradley Center site.

The Milwaukee City Council approved the plan on Nov. 1, but the Theater District said it had nothing to do with the effort.

“I think it’s going to be part of the theater district,” Williams-Smith said. “You know, we’re going to embrace all the arts and all the economic impact that we have in this city.”

Instead, the goal is to use these milestones to tell a greater story that showcases all that Milwaukee has to offer.

“It’s not about marketing theaters,” says Gary Witt of Pabst Theater Group. “It’s about using theaters as a tool to tell people that there are exciting parts and pieces that are fragmented, even if they’re never going to see them.”

VISIT Milwaukee also has “Gateway to the Milwaukee Theater District,” can be downloaded for free, and you can then visit participating theaters to receive perks like food and drink discounts.

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Milwaukee Theater District venues include:

Milwaukee Theater District performance groups include:

The Milwaukee Theater District also supports:

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