Established in 1969, the Marcus Performing Arts Center (MPAC) is the premier performing arts community gathering space in Southeastern Wisconsin. As a Milwaukee County-owned facility (managed and operated by the Marcus Performing Arts Center nonprofit organization), MPAC’s mission is to act as an energizing force that connects the community to the world through collaboration, innovation, social engagement, and the transformative power of live performing arts. MPAC is home to a variety of resident companies including Milwaukee Ballet, The Florentine Opera, First Stage, and Black Arts MKE and is also a dedicated veterans memorial in Milwaukee. Serving more than 300,000 audience members annually, MPAC presents a diverse mix of cultural arts programing, including touring Broadway shows and the world’s best in contemporary dance, jazz, global music, and live music. MPAC provides high-quality arts education and engagement experiences and is committed to racial equity, diversity, and inclusion (REDI) focusing on representation, inclusion, and investment to build bridges between diverse members of the community. In 2021, as part of the REDI Action Plan, Donald Driver, the Green Bay Packers' all-time leading receiver and a Hall of Famer, was named as the first Cultural Ambassador in MPAC’s history. The four-year partnership aims to promote the power of the arts, culture, and community engagement by making the performing arts more accessible to underserved people throughout southeastern Wisconsin.
MPAC has four performance spaces, three theaters inside the building and an outdoor theater, and lawn and plaza area adjacent to the Milwaukee River. There is also a parking structure adjacent to the main building with 690 spaces. The land is owned by the city but the structure is owned and managed by MPAC. As part of the first phases of its Campus Master Plan, MPAC has undergone several major upgrades, including renovation of the seating area of Uihlein Hall (Marcus Center’s largest venue with 2,128 seats), installation of live streaming technology, and renovation of its outdoor community grounds surrounding the outdoor theater.
As part of MPAC’s strategic plan, the following six strategic pillars will guide MPAC’s strategy for the next five years:
- Arts Participation: Expand audiences through brand development and community outreach that will attract individuals to the venue and inspire life-long engagement with the arts.
- Guest Experience: Ensure an excellent event experience both Front of House and Back of House.
- Employee Experience: Increase engagement, job satisfaction, and productivity among team members and volunteers.
- Capability and Asset Development: Develop organizational capability through people, process, and physical assets.
- Financial Sustainability: Grow and diversify revenue, build cash reserves and endowment.
- Racial Equity, Diversity & Inclusion (REDI): Invest to create a more racially representative and inclusive community at MPAC so that MPAC may continue to build bridges between diverse members of its community through high-quality arts and entertainment.
MPAC has a 20-member board of directors led by Chair Ray Wilson. The current fiscal 2023 budget is $17 million, with 86% earned revenue and 14% contributed revenue including County funding. Over the past several years, MPAC has strategically focused on adapting its business model to fully support its vision of serving as an anchor institution for arts and culture in the region.
Wisconsin’s largest city, Milwaukee is located along the southwestern shores of Lake Michigan. The city sits on traditional Potawatomi, Ho-Chunk, and Menominee homeland along the southwest shores of Michigami, where the Milwaukee, Menominee and Kinnickinnic rivers meet and the people of Wisconsin’s sovereign Anishinaabe, Ho-Chunk, Menominee, Oneida, and Mohican nations remain present. Milwaukee is a major league city—the business, cultural, sports, and technical base of a four-county metropolitan market of 1.5 million people, makes it the nation's 39th largest metro area with a cost of living that is 15% below the national average. Known as a “big city of little neighborhoods,” Milwaukee’s East Side, Historic Third Ward, and Bay View are just a few of its great locales, each with its own unique personality. The downtown is undergoing an urban renaissance offering rich cultural diversity with mixed-use areas that are simultaneously historic and hip.
Milwaukee is at the center of a seven-county metropolitan area with a robust economy, ranked in the top 20 on MarketWatch's 50 best United States metropolitan areas for business and one of the 25 best places for doing business by Inc. magazine. Seven Fortune 500 companies are headquartered in the region, including Northwestern Mutual, ManpowerGroup, Kohl’s, and Harley-Davidson. Higher education institutions based in the city include the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Marquette University, Milwaukee School of Engineering, and Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design. Milwaukee also offers extensive options for public transportation, including streetcar, bus, and commuter rail networks. General Mitchell International Airport is the largest airport in the Wisconsin region, offering nonstop flights to more than 35 destinations coast-to-coast and more than 200 international destinations with just one connection.
Recreation and leisure activities abound in Milwaukee. The city’s park system is ranked among the top 30 in the United States by the Trust for Public Land, with 90% of city’s residents living within a 10-minute walk to a park. The Oak Leaf Trail has more than 125 miles of trail for cycling, rollerblading, walking, birding, and running around Milwaukee County. Sports fans can catch the MLB Brewers at American Family Field, considered one of the best ballparks in America. Home to NBA Finals champions the Milwaukee Bucks, Fiserv Forum is a 17,500-seat arena and a world-class venue for large national and international entertainment artists. The city has a vibrant food and drink scene, with many modern craft breweries that maintain the city’s historic and cultural ties to beer.
The city’s climate is typical of the Midwest, with four distinct seasons. Winters are snowy and cold and summers are pleasant and warm. Milwaukee is located two hours south of Green Bay, Wisconsin, home of the Green Bay Packers and Door County, which is a scenic getaway destination located on Lake Michigan. It is also located 90 minutes north of Chicago, the fourth largest city in the United States.
Milwaukee’s cultural vitality is a major factor in the region’s quality of life, with both nationally acclaimed anchor institutions and a growing cadre of emerging and mid-size organizations that reflect the city’s diversity and cultural heritages. The Milwaukee Art Museum, an architectural landmark designed by Santiago Calatrava, is one of the city’s most iconic buildings. The Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra has restored and renovated the historic Warner Grand Theater as its permanent home, and the Milwaukee Public Museum will develop a new facility for its expansive natural history collections and interpretive programs. The Milwaukee Youth Arts Center houses the biggest children’s theater company and youth symphony orchestra in the nation. Supporting this stellar arts scene is the United Performing Arts Fund, established in 1967 to raise funds collectively for the performing arts sector.
Sources: visitmilwaukee.com; choosemilwaukee.com; bestplaces.net; census.gov
Reporting to the Board of Directors, the President and CEO will provide innovative leadership, champion a positive culture, and ensure the success of MPAC’s restructured business model which focuses on diversifying earned revenue sources and building a more robust culture of philanthropy. Serving as an ambassador and spokesperson, the President and CEO is a visible leader in the community, representing MPAC in the Milwaukee community as well as the national arts and Broadway community. This visionary and dynamic leader will develop, motivate, and lead an experienced team in fundraising, operations, finance, marketing, and artistic and educational programming. The President and CEO will possess a strong understanding of the complexities of running a multidisciplinary performing arts organization in the “new normal” of a COVID-effected environment. The position focuses on advancing the organization’s mission and strategic goals through authentic and deep engagement with the board, staff, artists, and community as a whole. The President and CEO will guide and support MPAC’s REDI program, advancing racial equity, diversity, and inclusion in the performing arts and champion the critical role of the arts locally and nationally.
Roles and Responsibilities
Strategic Vision and Leadership
- Provide visionary, collaborative and forward-thinking leadership to advance the organization’s strategic plan and ensure the organization’s goals and outcomes are consistent with the mission, vision, and values.
- Be a visible leader in the local and national arts and culture community and serve as a key spokesperson and advocate for the arts community and arts education.
- Serve as MPAC’s ambassador, strengthening community engagement through strong cultural diplomacy.
- Champion anti-racism in the performing arts and foster an environment that embraces inclusion, diversity, equity, and accessibility through respect, collaboration, and intentionality.
- Create and maintain strong ties with community decision makers, government leaders, the media, business leaders and other arts leaders to achieve mutually beneficial outcomes.
- Build upon MPAC’s visibility and positive brand to ensure the organization is properly resourced to achieve its goals.
Contributed and Earned Revenue Enhancement
- Serve as the organization’s chief fundraiser, increasing revenue diversification and inspiring individual and foundation donors, corporate sponsorship opportunities, government grants, and special campaigns to maintain MPAC’s investment in a thriving arts and culture sector.
- Partner with the executive team and board to develop the fundraising plan for the next phase of MPAC’s campus master plan and to determine next phases of MPAC’s parking structure.
- Cultivate ongoing government support from the City of Milwaukee and state of Wisconsin, elevating the positive impacts of the MPAC on the larger community.
- Anticipate the possible financial and organizational effects of MPAC’s restructured business model effectively.
- Enhance and guide a marketing and communication strategy that maximizes ticket sales, rental revenues, and other earned revenue opportunities.
Community Engagement and Programmatic Vitality
- Affirm MPAC’s role in the ecosystem of a vital regional arts community with multiple constituents and develop relationships that enhance the goals of that larger community.
- Lead efforts to embrace diversity and inclusion as a key element of community engagement in audience development, workforce vitality, board participation, vendor access, and programmatic vibrancy.
- Strengthen MPAC’s presence and partnerships in the community by actively engaging with a wide variety of stakeholders through public speaking, attending community events, and participating in community initiatives on all levels.
- Inspire and implement an exciting programmatic and educational vision in collaboration with the executive team to develop arts education and engagement programs that broaden MPAC’s reach in the community.
- Actively engage existing and potential artistic and community partners in wholistic approaches to community initiatives and programs.
- Communicate the MPAC’s mission to multiple audiences and develop and guide the implementation of effective strategies to expand participation.
- Advocate for artists, arts education, and arts access at the local, state and national level.
Organizational Stability and Resiliency
- Engage actively with board members to consider and develop practices, structures, and systems that are equitable, sustainable, and dynamic, aligning with plans for future change and growth.
- Inspire effective working relationships with and among the board of directors, engaging with board members to encourage active participation and ambassadorship in the community.
- Elevate and activate MPAC’s commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and access to attract and retain staff and board members from a wide range of backgrounds and experiences.
- Partner with the finance committee and CFO to assess and ensure strong fiscal health of MPAC and ensure timely access to accurate and updated information on finances, policy etc.
- Develop, motivate, mentor, and lead an experienced staff while recognizing the incredible efforts of the entire team that delivers on MPAC’s mission, vision, and values.
- Foster collaboration, amplify teamwork, and exhibit creativity in strategic visioning and practical implementation.