88Nine Radio Milwaukee

Yes, we do need more all-ages venues in Milwaukee

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The Journal Sentinel piece on Milwaukee’s need for more all-ages venues by Kelsey Kaufmann, Peter Murphy and Nicola Fumo reads:

Due to prohibitive city codes, it is difficult for small Milwaukee clubs to step up and host all-ages or 18-plus shows. Larger venues, like Turner Hall, avoid these rules by being licensed as a “center for the visual and performing arts.” This requires either a stage larger than 1,200 square feet or a collection of art on regular public display that’s been vouched for by “recognized experts or art critics” to a city committee. This keeps virtually all small clubs from hosting all-ages shows.

And, there are the problems of insurance costs and noise and alcohol restrictions. The article continues to argue:

There are plenty of other public spaces that serve alcohol where minors are allowed: hotels, movie theaters, painting studios, even indoor golf facilities. Why can a 20-year-old stand next to someone drinking a beer while they swing a golf club, but they can’t legally stand next to someone drinking a beer while they attend a concert in a venue smaller than Turner Hall?

It’s a great point.

Take IshDARR for example. He’s 21 now and he’s able to draw a Turner Hall-sized crowd, but what about before? At 19-years-old, he was already one of the city’s most popular young artists, but he couldn’t play the Cactus Club-sized shows he should have been playing back then because he wasn’t old enough. And, the young crowds he could have drawn wouldn’t have been able to get in anyway. How is a young music scene supposed to grow in this environment?

all-ages venues in Milwaukee

IshDARR at Turner Hall in 2017. Photo by Brianna Griepentrog

So, we need to ask: At what point are we, the creatives, going to saddle up next to our political leaders, who are ultimately the ones who can affect this kind of change? Because these prohibitive laws depend on the people we elect—and what we ask of them.

We need to begin an organized effort to make this happen. And it seems like we’ve taken the first step: getting the conversation going.

To keep it going, we need to keep asking: Why is there no one in our city’s or mayor’s offices who is in charge of cultural impact? Why don’t we have an arts representative like other cities do? Why do we have all these prohibitive laws for working musicians?

It’s not this or that—it’s this and that and some other stuff too.

With that, we’re excited about a debate that looks like momentum for a changing and growing music scene in Milwaukee.

88Nine Radio Milwaukee

Each Thursday morning on Radio Milwaukee, the Journal Sentinel’s Piet Levy and 88Nine’s Jordan Lee talk about the music coming into Milwaukee and the music coming out of Milwaukee on Tap’d In.

Today, Jordan and Piet discuss 414 Day events, MJ-Uncovered and an op-ed piece in the Journal Sentinel about the need for more all-ages venues in Milwaukee.

Read more and listen to the full Tap’d In podcast below.