The Show Must Go On?

Exploring dedicated funding possibilities for Milwaukee’s cultural and entertainment assets

March 2014


Pulling Back the Curtain, the Public Policy Forum’s December 2013 report assessing the needs of Milwaukee County’s major arts, cultural, recreational, and entertainment assets, left little doubt about the extensive nature of those needs.

The report emphasized that any call to action involving new or enhanced public funding also must weigh the region’s larger infrastructure challenges, as well as the public value placed on individual cultural and entertainment assets. It concluded, however, that if city leaders wish to build upon Milwaukee’s growing national reputation as a city that possesses both big city amenities and small town charm, then “additional public investment in its existing array of arts, cultural, and entertainment venues likely will be required.”

In this report, we explore the logical follow-up question: If there is a desire to pursue additional public investment in these regional assets, then what are effective options for doing so?

That question is not as simple as it may sound. As we discovered through our analysis of other metro areas that have implemented dedicated funding sources for cultural and entertainment assets, there are several distinct dedicated funding models that differ based on the community’s overall policy goals.