Monroe Arts Center
By Morgen Clary, Arts Wisconsin intern
The Monroe Arts Center is all about creating a “regional culture of appreciation for the arts” in south central Wisconsin. The center’s historic building is a “very fine music venue and a rare and beautiful artistic expression itself,” says Executive Director Richard Daniels. Daniels adds, “In recent years a considerable amount of effort and resources have been spent in the restoration of this unique property. In addition, a new addition will link to the existing historic building to provide full accessibility, a fine arts gallery, classrooms, and amenities.” The local community has been responding generously in support of this new addition.
Since its founding, the Monroe Arts Center has been a community-focused organization with a mission in three parts; “to nurture an appreciation for the arts, to aid individual creative development, and to ensure the preservation and integrity of our historic facility.” The Arts Center’s vision is “to become a regional center for the visual and performing arts.”
Daniels says, “Many people know us for our performing arts series and gallery exhibitions, but these are only a part of our story. Our outreach to area students is an important and growing part of our service to the arts.” Through the Performances in the School Program the Monroe Arts Center arranges artists to perform for children in area schools. The Monroe Arts Center also works “to aid in individual creative development” with programs such as the annual Wisconsin Regional Arts Program, MAC Photography Contest, and MAC Radio Live-Showcase of Talent, which are all available to students.
Country and Western, Western Swing, and Rockabilly music by some of the best musicians, singers, and songwriters, along with family and children’s music-themed performances and workshops, were part of the Arts Center’s signature event, the Wisconsin Music Arts Festival (WMAF), which took place in May at the Arts Center and locations around Monroe.
In addition to these exciting programs, the Monroe Arts Center is also hosting Healing the Heart of Democracy: A Gathering of Spirits for the Common Good with Parker J. Palmer, Carrie Newcomer, and Gary Walters. Daniels adds, “a mini version of this program was recorded for broadcast on Wisconsin Public Radio and is being filmed, in cooperation with Wisconsin Public Television, for potential broadcast.”
With their upcoming new building addition, and many diverse programs and events, the Monroe Arts Center is an influential arts venue making a difference in the community of Monroe and the Wisconsin/Illinois border area. Richard Daniels says, “the Board of Directors and staff of the Monroe Arts Center work with the assumptions that for art to thrive the culture must be generous and diverse, and beautiful art requires a beautiful environment.”