Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Arts
Press Release

Wilson Center Announces 2023 Big Event Honorees

Keith Mardak and Mary Vandenberg; and Latino Arts, Inc. to be Honored as Award Recipients

By - Dec 6th, 2022 03:44 pm

Brookfield, WI (December 6, 2022) At The Big Event on Saturday, June 3, 2023, the Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Arts (Wilson Center) will recognize Keith Mardak and Mary Vandenberg, and Latino Arts, Inc. as this year’s recipients of the EDDY Award and Educational Excellence Award (respectively).

Endowed by Wilson Center supporters Kathryn Murphy Burke and John Burke, the EDDY is presented annually by the Wilson Center’s Bridge Committee to an arts organization, corporation, or individual(s) whose philanthropic commitment to regional collaboration has created a higher standard of excellence in arts and arts education. In presenting the 2023 EDDY Award, the Wilson Center will celebrate the commitment of Keith Mardak and Mary Vandenberg to our Greater Milwaukee arts and culture community.

As generous community leaders and supporters, the husband and wife team, Keith and Mary have focused much of their volunteer and philanthropic efforts on education and the performing arts in and around the Milwaukee area. Keith Mardak is the former CEO and Chairman of the Board of Hal Leonard and his wife, Mary Vandenberg a past executive at the company. Together Keith and Mary have made significant impact on the arts in Milwaukee. In 2021 they made a generous $5 Million dollar donation to the capital campaign for the Milwaukee Youth Arts Center (MYAC) campus expansion, newly named the Mardak/Vandenberg building and a $5 Million dollar donation to the Milwaukee Symphony Bradley Symphony Center. They have also provided significant support for Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee, Dr. Howard Fuller Academy & Middle School, Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, First Stage Milwaukee and the Milwaukee Academy of Science, Milwaukee Ballet, St Marcus Schools, Milwaukee Youth Symphony among many others.

Keith Mardak and Mary Vandenberg will join a distinguished list of past EDDY Award honorees, recently including: Jodi Peck (2015), Donna and Donald Baumgartner (2016), Claire and Glenn Hackman (2017), Sue and Bud Selig (2018), Kate and Don Wilson (2019), with Mary Ellen and Scott Stanek; and Baird (2020/21).

The 2023 Big Event will mark the eighth year of the Educational Excellence Award, which recognizes organizational achievement of a nonprofit that exemplifies collaboration in the arts. The Wilson Center Bridge Committee has selected Latino Arts, Inc. as this year’s recipient of the award based on its mission to entertain, educate, and engage our community through cinematic experiences, and for its operations, advocacy, and community engagement that seek to accelerate film culture and positively impact the Greater Milwaukee region. During last week’s EDDY Award reception, Jeffrey Morin, President of the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design offered his thoughts about the impact that Latino Arts, Inc. has on the community. Jeff said, “Jacobo Lovo [Managing Artistic Director] and the small but mighty staff at Latino Arts offer genuinely valuable arts experiences to the community.  Whether a performance, exhibition, or Lunch and Learn, these accessible programs are building the next Milwaukee audiences in support of the arts…audiences that see themselves authentically represented.”

Latino Arts, Inc. is dedicated to bringing cultural awareness, artistic educational experiences, and high-quality programming to the Greater Milwaukee and southeastern Wisconsin community, as well as to a global audience through our virtual programming featuring Hispanic artists from throughout the world. Latino Arts is located in the heart of Milwaukee near the south side, a vibrant neighborhood that is home to many of the metropolitan area’s more than 100,000 Hispanic residents. Their 33-year history is one of connection and inspiration to Milwaukee’s south-side Hispanic neighborhood and beyond. We have proudly curated and hosted acclaimed performing Latino artists, captivating cultural art exhibitions and educational opportunities, ensuring community members of all backgrounds feel welcome at our events and helping to build bridges between a diverse community.

As the only Wisconsin fine arts institution dedicated exclusively to showcasing the works of Hispanic and Latino artists, Latino Arts, Inc. provides high-quality low-cost, and accessible arts programming. Latino Arts is committed to reaching beyond its south side Milwaukee neighborhood to share the rich cultural heritage of the Hispanic community with a diverse, global audience. The mission of Latino Arts is to strengthen and preserve the cultural heritage of the diverse Hispanic community in Milwaukee and Wisconsin; and to increase cultural awareness and diversity by offering performances, exhibits, and education in the areas of music, visual arts, dance, and literature to the greater Milwaukee community.

Past recipients of the Educational Excellence Award have included Florentine Opera Company (2015), First Stage (2016), Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra (2017), Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra Arts in Community Education/ACE (2018), and Milwaukee Ballet and Artistic Director Michael Pink (2019), and Next Act Theater and Producing Artistic Director David Cecsarini.

The Big Event is an all-inclusive evening featuring a red-carpet reception with entertainment, art experiences, cocktails, and small plates; a voice auction; award presentation; and a wrap party with music, dancing and more. Proceeds from The Big Event support the mission of the Wilson Center to be the catalyst for lifelong discovery and exploration of the arts. Tickets will go on sale Spring of 2023.

Situated in a beautiful 400-acre park in Brookfield, Wisconsin, the Wilson Center’s vibrant outdoor artistic landscape—the Lynn Chappy ArtsPark—joins nature and art in ways that are designed to educate and inspire. Recognized as a cultural anchor in the greater Milwaukee community, the Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Arts serves as a catalyst for lifelong discovery and exploration of the arts. This nonprofit serves more than 55,000 people annually, including 10,000 students. The Wilson Center focuses on three main disciplines: performing arts, arts education and visual arts. In addition to year-round performances, the organization promotes lifelong learning through arts education programs, art classes and art exhibitions. For more information visit

The Bridge Committee, comprised of regional arts and community leaders, is committed to supporting the Wilson Center’s efforts to strengthen the impact of regional collaboration for the long-term viability of the arts in Southeastern Wisconsin. Andy Nunemaker, co-chair of the Bridge Committee speaks to the history of the committee and offers the vision of Kate Wilson, of the Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Arts, as the person who’s vision it was to create it. Andy says, “Kate Wilson’s original vision for the Bridge Committee was to bring supporters of the arts together from Waukesha County and Milwaukee County – to form a ‘bridge’ so to speak.  Her boundless energy has helped the committee grow into a thriving group of community leaders, volunteers and friends.” Andy goes on to say, “We all share in a passion for the arts and for our region. It’s such a pleasure to get together with these like-minded friends to showcase leadership in the arts, philanthropy and education!

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