Merry Christmas Green Bay: Help Us Put a Bow on Your New Downtown Arts and Performance Center

Denis Gullickson

denis gullickson | talking titletwon | dec. 2018

Since early this year, the Green Bay Theatre Company has been working diligently with area developer, Paul Belschner, to convert the former Schauer and Schumacher buildings into a working arts and performance center.

The design calls for a 200-seat, street-level theater at 227 E Walnut and commingling areas, studios and rehearsal spaces, class and meeting rooms, galleries and other amenities throughout the rest of the facility. A key piece of the center is an inviting public-access point at 109 N Adams Street.

When the facility opens on June 1, 2019, it will be a centerpiece in the area's burgeoning arts and performance offerings and an expanded downtown entertainment district. At the center, visual artists, filmmakers, authors, musicians, dancers and performers will “collaborate and cross-pollinate." In the process, we will grow Green Bay's cultural economy and support the excellent efforts of so many already underway across the city.

As an educational facility, the center will have a strong, direct tie to area schools. A key part of its function will be coordinating an instructional mix between aspiring and existing talent in all areas of artistic study. Elementary and high schools students will have an opportunity to learn from young adults and young adults from those already established in their respective fields. A young professional think tank will eventually join the milieu. Our three primary colleges will also have a major role in the center's programming.

Artists will interact with authors, filmmakers with musicians, dancers with photographers, and on and on and on. The huge windows on Walnut and Adams Streets will display Green Bay's creative product for the entire world to see.

The theater will be open daily in the summer and several evenings in the winter with a nearly-vaudevillian offering of the best Northeast Wisconsin and the Midwest has to offer. Much of the preparatory work for that will be done in the studios, rehearsal spaces and dance floors in the approximately-18,000 square feet above the theater.

The “buzz" created at the center will put another pin in the map where one finds Green Bay — right next to that Packers “G." Best of all, the synergy there will support arts and performance wherever it is currently found across Titletown.

Outcomes

While this is a vast undertaking, our goals have been pretty simple: give area artists and performers of every stripe a footprint in a resurgent downtown, build the necessary infrastructure to support the flagship Meyer Theatre and retain and return this city's young talent — in the arts and performance and other fields as well.

Every strategic plan developed over the past 10 years with the intention of taking Green Bay forward has mentioned a paucity of attention given to the arts and performance in our downtown core. The proposed facility is a bold, beginning step in addressing that deficit.

Across this town, great things are happening in the realm of arts and performance. Excellent venues can be found across Green Bay and De Pere where creative individuals are honing and plying their talents and skills. Events abound where the public can partake — “Art Unhinged" being one glowing, recent example.

Still, most area individuals, groups and organizations engaged in arts and performance in our area will tell you, to date, it's often every creative soul and group for him or herself — too often with dividing lines as stark as the Fox River. At this new arts and performance center, folks will join forces and promote everyone to the benefit of everyone — growing the opportunities and, in turn, growing the audience.

If 80,000+ folks can turn out for a Packers game on a Sunday afternoon, then Green Bay's arts and performance communities can get some Big Love, too.

The talent is here. The hard work and creativity are here. The desire and need to collaborate are here. Missing is a centralized facility where it can all come together and from which it can emanate to every other venue and event.

Calling All Artists, Performers and Patrons of the Arts

In creating the physical design and programming for this facility, the Green Bay Theatre Company has met with at least 100 individuals, groups and organizations engaged in arts and performance in the Green Bay area and beyond.

We have also met with key community resources including Mosaic Arts, Downtown Green Bay Inc., the Greater Green Bay Community Foundation, Chamber of Commerce, Visitors and Convention Bureau and others.

It has shared its vision with artists at ArtStreet, other area performance venues, representatives of all area theater groups, the N.E. Chapter of Wisconsin Visual Artists, Unhinged, the NWTC Artisan Center, UWGB and St. Norbert College, the Green Bay Packers and many, many others.

To a person during these contacts, the proposed facility has been lauded as a much-needed next step in supporting Green Bay's creative vibe and offerings. If you are an artist or a group looking for a home or just a place to connect with like-minded individuals, contact us. If you want a perfect place to practice, produce, pick other artist's brains or ponder with other poets, you will find it happening there.

Between now and February 12, the Green Bay Theatre Company will be approaching “champions" of the arts in our area and getting the renovation underway. Our goal is $3 million to refit the facility and establish a fund to maintain operations. A “Lead Gift" of $1.5 million will come with naming rights for the entire center. A “Benefactor Gift" of $500,000 will come with naming rights to the theater. Other giving levels will prominently place our patrons' names on the other amenities at the center.

If you believe it is high-time Green Bay does all it can to nurture and promote its creative side, contact us. You can get more information at gbtheatre.org or contact Denis Gullickson (920) 621-9304, Paul Belschner (920) 764-0832 or Michael O'Malley (920) 606-5626 or email us at gbtheatrecompany@aol.com.

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