Music and the arts have always been an important part of the Bronzeville community. In the heyday of jazz, Bronzeville nightclubs such as Metropole Club and the Moon Glow hosted performers like Billie Holliday, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Dizzy Gillespie, and Nat “King” Cole. There have also always been talented locals, and today, a number of artists work and create in the Bronzeville area.
Each year during Bronzeville Week in August, the Bronzeville Art Walk is a fun, easy way to explore the work of Milwaukee’s talented African-American artists. Local businesses open their doors to exhibit, showcase, and sell a wide variety of artwork. But you can enjoy art and creativity in Bronzeville no matter when you visit.
At Jazale’s Art Studio, youth in the community have the opportunity to explore the arts with after-school programs and workshops with a professional artist-in-residence. Jazale’s also has a gallery space for community events and exhibitions. King Drive Commons Gallery & Studio is a gallery that regularly participates in the city’s free gallery night events. It has featured exhibitions like “Face the War Paint - A Mixed Media Art Exhibit” by Fidel Verdin and “If These Quilts Could Talk… African American Quilting Traditions.”
RedLine Milwaukee is an urban art laboratory home to exhibition space, a strong artist in residence program, community printshop, and artist studios. In addition to its artists in residence, RedLine welcomes the community with printmaking workshops and classes.
The Bronzeville neighborhood is also home to a wide assortment of murals, sculptures, and beautiful architecture. Use the Milwaukee Mural Map to help find your way to Bronzeville’s murals, and don’t forget to take a closer look at the historic buildings that you may see. The colorful Schlitz tower at the intersection of King Drive and Galena Street is particularly eye-catching!
Theater & Performing Arts
Founded in 1981, the Hansberry-Sands Theatre Company is the oldest black theater company in Wisconsin. The company presents classic and contemporary dramas, musicals, and comedies that reflect the rich cultural heritage and life experiences of African American people while expressing the commonality of the human experience. Bronzeville Arts Ensemble is a new company dedicated to the expansion of Milwaukee’s African American theater arts community. In addition to presenting new plays, Bronzeville Arts Ensemble also offers workshops, classes, and other community collaborations to help provide a creative outlet for community artists.
Young performers certainly aren’t left out in this neighborhood! The African American Children’s Theatre has provided after-school classes and sessions in the performing arts since 1989. The theater’s BRAVO! Youth Ensemble performs throughout the community, presenting choral pieces with positive themes of friendship, community, and personal potential, with a special emphasis on music relating to African American history and culture, and on works by African American composers and arrangers.
The Milwaukee Youth Arts Center, located in Bronzeville, is the collaborative home of First Stage and the Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra (MYSO). MYSO’s jazz studies program is particularly relevant to the history of the neighborhood, and talented young musicians play at concerts both in the center and throughout the community.