Milwaukee Youth Arts Center: Urban Arts Campus

$20 million New Markets Tax Credit Investment Opportunity in Milwaukee, WI

Founded in 2002, Milwaukee Youth Arts Center, Inc. (“MYAC”) is a mission-driven nonprofit organization dedicated to serve the community as an arts education setting, allowing for the highest quality training in music and theatre and serving as a resource for other arts organizations in the region. Hope Community Capital got on board with the MYAC team to advise on the sourcing, structuring, and closing of $20 million in New Markets Tax Credits allocation to complement its capital campaign for the renovation of the lower level of MYAC’s existing center and the adaptive reuse of its previously acquired neighboring building.

At the Milwaukee Youth Arts Center, young people participate in programming in a creative, multicultural and enthusiastic environment. The facility offers well designed and educationally appropriate rehearsal halls, studio rooms, a theater resource center, a music library, costume shop and administrative offices.

A unifying space, MYAC maximizes the ability of children to work together, cutting through barriers and building a truly multicultural and economically diverse community. This commitment to equity, diversity, and accessibility has also produced an education geared toward young actors and musicians with autism and other disabilities, offering the opportunity for these individuals to appear alongside their peers on stage and perform in ensembles and orchestras. Over 50% of MYAC students are people of color, and nearly 40% of all students are receive financial aid based on need.

First Stage and the Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra (MYSO), MYAC’s principal founding organizations, have fully utilized space at MYAC’s existing facility since 2006. With no space to grow programs and few opportunities to purchase surrounding sites, it became imperative for MYAC, the owner/operator of the buildings, to acquire the neighboring property.

When development is complete, the new property will have a small performance specific venue (250 seats), MYAC will also re-program two rehearsal halls to MYAC that had become unavailable due to First Stage’s extensive utilization of rehearsal spaces for rehearsals and performances. The halls will be re-programmed for majority MYSO use, which currently has a waitlist of three times its current student enrollment due to lack of space capacity. The Garden Level in the original building will be renovated to address the balance of MYSO and FS programming needs including 3 new rehearsal halls, 6 new studio spaces, and 6 small group instruction rooms. Expanding the facilities to better meet the programming needs of First Stage and MYSO will create added capacity for other community-based organizations in the school-day hours when local youth are not available.

By providing affordable access and prioritizing MYAC’s commitment to removing barriers to high quality arts education, MYAC expects to double the number of young people currently participating in programming within five years. Through programming at the Center, MYAC projects that over 5,000 individuals will participate annually in programming, a 50% increase over current operations. Based on current scholarship data of First Stage and MYSO, over 40% of these new program participants are anticipated to be eligible for need-based scholarships based on household income.

The NMTC Opportunity: The project is seeking $20 million in NMTC allocation and a source loan to bridge capital campaign proceeds. Please reach out to Carrie Sanders at for more information about the NMTC investment opportunity.