An African-American arts and culture center in preparation for Bronzeville
If the project is approved, the Bronzeville Center for the Arts (BCA) will build a new campus – with a 50,000 square foot facility focused on African American exhibits, education and immersive arts programming – on a former DNR site. .
The BCA was recently selected as the top responder to an offer to purchase a 3.4-acre state-owned property formerly occupied by the Southeast Wisconsin DNR Regional Headquarters and Service Center of Milwaukee. BCA’s proposed $1.6 million land purchase will be considered by the State Building Commission on February 9. The proposal will also need to be approved by the Joint State Finance Committee.
“This site has tremendous potential for the Bronzeville Center for the Arts,” said Kristen Hardy, a Milwaukee attorney and chair of the Bronzeville Center for the Arts board of trustees. “One day in the near future, we hope that visitors from across the city, state and nation will come to Bronzeville to explore African American art and art history in a way that fosters and inspire personal expression, the exchange of ideas and creative entrepreneurship.”
This would be BCA’s second investment in Bronzeville, with the organization’s planned development at North Avenue. Construction of the $1 million redevelopment of 507 W. North Ave. should start this spring.
The North Avenue project will include the redevelopment of an existing duplex building as well as the construction of an addition that will span adjacent vacant land. The BCA North Avenue development will house a gallery, studio space and BCA offices.
The programming proposed by the BCA for its future developments of Bronzeville includes:
- Museum-quality visual arts exhibits.
- Live and virtual educational programs, lecture series, panel discussions and seminars, which bring together artists, scholars, educators, community leaders, organizations and innovators in the United States and beyond to examine the history of art, dynamic art projects, career opportunities, creative entrepreneurship, and issues of art and race.
- Hands-on art workshops that explore various techniques with an emphasis on teaching creative skills, as well as intellectual and professional development.
- Performances in visual arts, music, dance, spoken word, etc.
“We have a great opportunity to increase our collective knowledge of African American art, art history, and artists,” said Mutòpe J. Johnson, a Milwaukee-based artist and BCA project manager. . “The Center will be a true destination, celebrating the past while placing the art of the African diaspora at the center of the cultural consciousness of present and future generations.
Earlier this month, The New York Times named Milwaukee’s Bronzeville neighborhood one of “52 Places for Travelers to Visit in 2022.”