Donation helping make Madison Youth Arts Center a reality

MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) -- Plans for a Madison Youth Arts Center have been in the works for years, but a $20 million donation from Pleasant Rowland means that center will soon be a reality.

Roseanne Sheridan, artistic director of Children's Theater of Madison, said she's had this dream for years.

"I’d love it to be a place that’s so busy that you just see kids coming and going at all times of day, and people are just really excited to be there and participating in it," Sheridan said.

The Children's Theater of Madison is one of two organizations that will call the center home. The other is Madison Youth Choirs, led by Mike Ross. However, Ross emphasized that the center is not just for them.

"It'll be a home for the youth arts community in Madison, where other groups can come and do programming and use space and share an office space and share in rehearsal space and just really a place for all kids to feel welcome," he said.

The new arts center will be on East Mifflin St., across from Lapham Elementary School. Rowland's donation is what helped get this project started, but Ross said this project has been needed for some time.

"There are so many organizations that serve kids in Madison in the arts that are in horrible conditions, substandard, places that were not designed for kids to do their work," he said.

Sheridan is excited about having a new space for the arts because she said arts are important to young people's development. She hopes the center will be a place where people can use the arts to learn about themselves and the world.

"To be able to offer all kinds of artistic experience opportunities for the curious as well as the serious, these are life-changing experiences for these young people," she said.

The Madison Plan Commission unanimously approved the Youth Arts Center Project on Monday, Jan. 14. Ross said they hope to break ground in April or May, and the center should open in fall of 2020.