marn building

The Milwaukee Artist Resource Network will open the MARN Art + Culture Hub at its headquarters of 191 N. Broadway in Milwaukee’s 3rd Ward neighborhood in the near future.

The Milwaukee 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization signed a 10-year lease at the Lofts on Broadway in October of 2019. The organization received a $3 million grant from the Anonymous Fund at the Greater Milwaukee Foundation, which helped open the new space. Previously, MARN was located in the Marshall Building in Milwaukee’s 3rd Ward at 207 E. Buffalo St.

MARN is currently waiting for final city approvals, which includes final occupancy totals.

The MARN Art + Culture Hub is 5,500 square feet with a cafe, conference center, innovation studio, gallery and exhibition hall. The nonprofit will debut the space with an inaugural show called “2020 2.0: A Year in Translation​,” a virtual exhibition that will run through March 12 and include 63 works of art from over 50 creatives.

MARN was founded in 2002 to support Milwaukee creatives with resources, marketing and visibility.

“We attempted many different negotiations on several buildings,” MARN president and CEO Mal Montoya said. “The one that we ended up here in the historic 3rd Ward was one that was unimaginable to bring local artists street level to North Broadway.”

The MARN Art + Culture Hub is more than just an exhibition hall. The cafe will feature a coffee and wine bar as well as light food fare. Montoya said MARN hopes to work with local students, primarily those from underserved communities, to work in the facility. MARN will also have an innovation studio that will be reserved for the intersection of innovation, technology and the arts.

On March 6, MARN will conduct a virtual walk-thru of the new exhibition hall, which includes a 360-degree experience. The nonprofit has been working for the better part of two years to rebrand itself, which includes the new space and a new website. The greatest goal, Montoya said, is to be at the forefront of the arts community and assist in leading the arts community into the post-Covid-19 world.

MARN currently has a staff of seven employees and membership base of about 200 local artists. Throughout the pandemic, the organization has supported artists in unique ways.

MARN gave out $250 grants to local artists specifically impacted by Covid at the beginning of the pandemic. The organization also shifted to providing artistic experiences virtually. Montoya expects that will continue for some time.

“We understand that Wisconsin is literally at the bottom of federal funding for arts programs,” he said. “It’s literally finding opportunities for artists. We hope that with our facility we’ll make a small dent in that objective with continued funding sources to help those that need not only money but opportunities.”

Moving forward, the new space will give MARN the ability to continue its mission and even expand to new avenues, including music and spoken word.

“Programming has always been to help artists achieve success and sustainability in the art world. That still stands,” board chair Pamela Anderson said.

Montoya added that another goal of the organization is to expand its representation in the BIPOC (black, Indigenous and people of color) community.

“We understand that with this visibility that we have, comes responsibility,” he said.

MARN hopes to expand representation when it comes to its board members and programming.

Read the article written by Margaret Naczek in the Milwaukee Business Journal here.