When the COVID-19 shutdown caused so many small performance spaces in Milwaukee to close their doors permanently, Sunstone Studios began working to save the theater space at 127 E Wells St in Downtown Milwaukee. This location, in the heart of Milwaukee’s theater district, has been a home for small theater companies for decades, most recently a company that ceased operations in 2020 after more than 20 years. Once this space was secured, the work of sifting through the remnants of almost 25 years of a working theater began. Clean up, re-organization, and a fresh coat of paint are almost completed but the next phase of this re-opening requires purchases and skilled work. This next phase of work will ensure that performance artists have opportunities to safely build on all that was learned about digital theater during the shutdown.
Funds raised in this campaign will help Sunstone Studios finish outfitting the space for a post-COVID-19 world, by focusing on two of the new needs of the performing arts: Better ventilation for COVID-19 mitigation, and creating a sound environment for digital recording and broadcasting of our shows. COVID-19 mitigation creates unique challenges for performers and performance art spaces, yet must be completed in order to provide a safe environment for all of our performers and audiences. Sunstone Studios must make considerable investments into the outdated ventilation systems. Significant improvements to soundproofing, sound enhancement, and sound and video recording are also necessary if we are to protect the performing arts from a complete shutdown ever again. COVID-19 has given us the opportunity to rethink live theater and find new ways to share work by Milwaukee artists with the world. These improvements allow us to capitalize on this reimagining and make streaming and podcasting part of our practices going forward. We are beginning this next phase of the space rehab on May 1, 2021, and will continue until we are ready for performances for larger audiences this fall.
Your support means so much to us. Opening a business during such tumultuous times has had so many challenges. We may not currently be able to bring an audience into the space to bring in revenue to fund our programs, but we do have the time to create an intentional culture in our space. Your support allows us to focus on what makes Sunstone Studios a small space making big differences.
In a time when our nation, as well as individuals, are charged to confront the harm inflicted on marginalized people in various aspects, including the arts, in a city heralded as the most segregated and the most harmful place to raise Black children, Sunstone Studios commits itself to not only framing conversations and language related to honoring all people, but to actions that demonstrate a proactive approach. From the floorboards to the balcony, we commit to creating an equitable space in which partnering with the Black and Brown communities of Milwaukee, the LGBTQIA2S+ communities of Milwaukee, the marginalized communities of artists who are neither Black, Brown nor White and the communities of artists of all abilities are our priority. We stand in the gap as fellow artists and creatives to offer space rental and membership with access to shared services, value-added features, and programming with a significant focus on outreach to marginalized communities. We will select participants using intentional racial diversity to ensure equitable access to all communities; 40% Black and Brown identified, 40% White identified, & 20% neither Black, Brown, or White identified encompassing all intersections.
With a wealth of educational, theatrical, artistic, as well as lived experiences under our collective belt, we stand as a diverse team of Milwaukeeans who love our city so much that we will use our space, our privileges, and our creative voices to challenge it to do better, and to become better for all people. We are Sunstone Studios, a small place brave enough to make a big difference!
We thank you for your contribution in making Sunstone Studios a safe haven for all Milwaukee artists to create vibrant work and bring new stories to life on this stage a springboard to stages all over the world.
Or, JOIN OUR MAILING LIST to find out about volunteer opportunities. Volunteers have the chance to get free tickets or use of studio space.
We are also looking for donated items to help outfit the space, including computers, folding tables, and more. CONTACT US to find out more.