Imagine MKE
Press Release

Mayoral Candidates Share Their Vision for Arts, Culture, and Creativity in Milwaukee

 

By - Feb 9th, 2022 12:14 pm

(February 9, 2022) – Imagine MKE is the connector, convener, and amplifier of Milwaukee’s arts and culture community, serving as the unified voice to advocate for greater public investment in arts and culture and the prioritization of incorporating arts and culture into community development and civic life.

As a public service, Imagine MKE asked all seven primary candidates in the February 15 Mayoral primary election the following three questions to help Milwaukeeans better understand the role that arts, culture, and creativity plays in the candidates’ lives and their visions for the City:

  • What role does arts, culture, and creativity play in your own personal life?
  • How do you see the role of arts, culture, and creativity in the future of our City?
  • What is the first thing that you would do as Mayor to deepen the City’s engagement, investment, and amplification of Milwaukee’s creative economy?

Four of the seven candidates responded and this release has their responses listed in the order that they appear on the sample ballot. Their answers are printed verbatim, with only light formatting edits.

Imagine MKE continues to welcome engagement in this conversation from all candidates. Imagine MKE sent three requests over a two-week period to the campaign email addresses, including a final note extending the original deadline.

BOB DONOVAN

What I can tell you is that I would have an open door policy, the same as I did in my 20 years as Alderman. Any group or individual looking to better Milwaukee would have my ear, and you can’t have a great City without arts and culture.

With our City’s current fiscal challenges, I can’t say at this point what the City of Milwaukee could do, financially, to support these efforts but I can promise you that I would be willing to sit down with your organization and consider any idea you propose. I can also commit to using my bully pulpit to speak out on the importance of arts, culture, and creativity in our City and encourage people to support these efforts both with their dollars and their personal involvement.

IESHUH GRIFFIN

What role does arts, culture, and creativity play in your own personal life? 

When I was a child I was almost killed by a reckless drunk driver, I was in the hospital for a substantial amount of time, it was during that time that I began to draw, and explore creativity in art. Drawing, art and the creativity aspect of it began to be a comfort to me. Though I am not a professional artist I do appreciate the culture of it.

How do you see the role of arts, culture, and creativity in the future of our City?  

Art, and the culture of art as well as it’s creativity brings is a universal language in itself that can be appreciated by all.

What is the first thing that you would do as Mayor to deepen the City’s engagement, investment, and amplification of Milwaukee’s creative economy? 

One of the first things I would like to do is meet with the people of the city of Milwaukee and collaborate, listen and go from there as it relates to utilizing the resources that are available.

MICHAEL SAMPSON

What role does arts, culture, and creativity play in your own personal life? 

In my personal life, I am engaged to an actress. It is important for us to continue to support local art by attending shows to gain ideas for both of our lives. Within the past 2 months we have attended Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra‘s playing of “Return of the Jedi”, Black Arts MKE‘s “Black Nativity” and “Mean Girls”.

How do you see the role of arts, culture, and creativity in the future of our City?  

I am an event planner and culture creator here in Milwaukee. No other candidate in this race has brought more culture to Milwaukee than myself and my company Swarmm Events. Some of my most known events include the Shamrock Shuffle, Milwaukee Taco Fest, Milwaukee Oktoberfest, 12 Bars of Christmas and the Young Milwaukee Holiday Gala. I have also opened numerous small businesses including Brunch, Revel Bar, 1983 Arcade Bar & more.

Our city is nothing without our culture. We need to continue to build culture and events here to retain our young talent and gain more talent to our city. We have some of the best performing arts venues in the nation and I’d love to see more come here too.

What is the first thing that you would do as Mayor to deepen the City’s engagement, investment, and amplification of Milwaukee’s creative economy? 

My first day in office I will do whatever I can to help push the Frank Productions project through in the Third Ward to help expand culture and arts in Milwaukee. We must continue to develop and grow as a city, which will only help create more jobs for our citizens.

CAVALIER JOHNSON

What role does arts, culture, and creativity play in your own personal life? 

As the new mayor with young kids, we as a family unfortunately have less time for the fine arts than we used to. My wife and I had a wonderful date night out at the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra gala, though, and whenever we can we take advantage of Milwaukee’s tremendous array of cultural institutions, the museums, the theaters, the performing arts.

The way I see art and culture touch our lives the most is through our children. My 11-year-old is a voracious reader and writer, and his keen observations about the world always make us think. My 3-year-old twins like nothing more than a good picture book, and I’m often settled down in an armchair with each of them balanced on one side as we all read together.

How do you see the role of arts, culture, and creativity in the future of our City? 

Looking ahead, I’m very excited about the future of Bronzeville. With the long-awaited opening of the new Black Holocaust Museum, and the proposed Bronzeville Center for the Arts, Milwaukee will re-energize our history as a national center for Black Art. We have such a vibrant history with European, Native American, and Latin American institutions as well, from the near south side to the far south side, from Lake Michigan all the way out to the Granville neighborhood. You can’t build a city just on factories and finance – in order to attract talent and become the most livable city in America, we must invest big-time in arts and culture, so people want to stay here, and people want to move here. I will promote arts and culture every day while I’m in office.

Let me also say that our top priority is a making Milwaukee a safer city – and the best way to do that is to engage young people in activity – which can be sports or service, but also can be arts and imagination.

What is the first thing that you would do as Mayor to deepen the City’s engagement, investment, and amplification of Milwaukee’s creative economy? 

The best thing I can do as Mayor is use the bully pulpit. I will be a visible consumer of the arts, and of our creative economy. I’ll partner with Imagine MKE to tell the story of who Milwaukee is, and who Milwaukee intends to become. I’ll highlight our successes – and I’ll even tell the stories of our challenges and failures, because that’s how we become stronger. And we will always find ways to highlight the arts by making investments in the city.

I’m excited about continuing and strengthening the tradition of hosting art exhibitions in City Hall, and will push to do more in libraries (like the amazing art gallery in our East Library), and in our city-owned public spaces all across town.

Finally, we can’t grow our economy or become a more sustainable, safer city without the deep partnership of our creative class. We don’t solve problems like reckless driving just with engineers and enforcement – we need creativity. We need to think outside the box. I cannot wait to build on our partnership with Imagine MKE and the entire arts community.

NOTE: This press release was submitted to Urban Milwaukee and was not written by an Urban Milwaukee writer. It has not been verified for its accuracy or completeness.

More about the 2022 Mayoral Race

Read more about 2022 Mayoral Race here

Recent Press Releases by Imagine MKE

Imagine MKE to Convene Greater Milwaukee Creative Economy Forum with Support from Partners Including MMAC and VISIT Milwaukee

The Nov 1 session will gather a diverse group of civic, non-profit, private sector, philanthropic and educational leaders to discuss the influence of the creative economy on economic and social vibrancy

Imagine MKE Launches Search for Executive Director

New leader will spearhead organization’s strategic framework and plan of work

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