Drive economic prosperity as a catalytic hub, growing our creative industries by leveraging applied creativity in education, commerce, and culture.


With targeted focus, the creative industries will create jobs and businesses, enhance competitiveness of other businesses, be an important asset to attract and retain talent, and increase the vitality and quality of life throughout the region.

What are the “creative industries”?

Those individuals and businesses whose products and services originate in aesthetic, artistic or cultural content.

What’s our story?

Interview with Executive Director Christine Harris in March 2011, just prior to the official launch of Creative Alliance Milwaukee.

The Cultural Alliance of Greater Milwaukee was formed in 2005 by a group of cultural leaders who recognized the need for an umbrella organization representing the arts and culture sector in greater Milwaukee. Major activities in the early years included:

  • The first geo-demographic research of over 227,000 culturally affiliated households
  • Audience development research and workshops
  • Hosting the national Americans for the Arts Conference, June 2006
  • The first survey of our arts and culture organizations with the Public Policy Forum, 2006
  • Participating in the Americans for the Arts: Arts & Economic Prosperity report, 2007
  • Representing the arts and culture sector within and outside of the region
  • Encouraging policy development that supported a sustainable arts and culture sector
  • Directly influencing consumer awareness, access and attendance

In 2008, the Cultural Alliance was commissioned by the Greater Milwaukee Committee to conduct an audit of the major cultural assets in the region, including a review of organized philanthropic support. This study, The Cultural Asset Inventory of the Seven County Region, made clear that the Milwaukee region has outstanding arts and cultural assets—and a fragile infrastructure. The study recommended a planning process for the creative community incorporating for-profit business, nonprofit arts and culture organizations, and individual artists and creatives.

As a result of the initial study, Creativity Works! Milwaukee Regional Creative Industries Project launched in 2009 with the goal of inventorying and growing the Milwaukee seven county region’s creative economy, meaning those individuals and businesses whose products and services originate in aesthetic, artistic or cultural content. After a summit of regional community leaders was held in February, followed by several gatherings with the creative community, it became clear that the scope and complexity of the project required outside assistance. After receiving a $146,250 grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce and hiring national consultant group Mt. Auburn Associates, the project commenced.

Experts explain how our creative assets can be harnessed to become an economic driver for our region. A study by the Creative Alliance Milwaukee highlights the Milwaukee region’s creative resources and how they can be leveraged to integrate creative thinking into old industries and develop new business and industries in the region. Panelists: Christine Harris (Creative Alliance Milwaukee), David Kohler (Kohler Company), Dawn Helsing Wolters (Milwaukee Rep.), Julia Taylor (Greater Milwaukee Committee), Mike Lovell (UW-Milwaukee), and Willie Heins (Milwaukee Common Council).


In January of 2011, the report Creative Industries A New Economic Growth Opportunity for the Milwaukee 7 Region was released. The report recommended a strategic action plan for the region’s creative sector. In order to implement those recommendations and serve the broader creative industries in the Milwaukee region, the Cultural Alliance became the Creative Alliance Milwaukee in April 2011, with the goal of adding jobs, small businesses, and increased creative capacity in our region that will ultimately lead to more innovation.

In April 2011, when Creative Alliance Milwaukee was launched, we worked to develop a vision and strategic plan, based upon all the good work contributed on the highly successful Creativity Works! project.  Using that work as a starting point, we gathered a small group of artists, community, education, and business leaders to hone in on a more specific vision and plan to provide focus for the organization.  During the fall of 2011, the Creative Alliance Board and staff worked to fine-tune the following proposed vision and plan – Creative Alliance Milwaukee 2012 Vision and Strategic Plan.

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