Interview with Maggie Seer, Director of Institutional Giving and Rebecca Whitney, Director of Education
The Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra (MSO) is the state’s largest performing arts organization and includes a professional orchestra and volunteer chorus. Over 130 classics, pops and family concerts are presented annually. Most performances take place at the Bradley Symphony Center in downtown Milwaukee. The MSO also reaches about 30,000 students through their education programs.
The MSO has received funding from Wispact for the past 2 years. According to Maggie Seer, Director of Institutional Giving, “We began our sensory friendly concert initiative to reach more people, especially those with sensory sensitivities and their families. We want to be a place where everybody feels that they belong and that there’s something for them.”
To assist in the creation of their programming, MSO partnered with Kulture City which is a nonprofit organization that trains staff and certifies venues which have best-practice sensory inclusive modifications. In addition to extensive staff training, MSO has also invested in special supplies and resources including noise canceling headphones, sensory kits and quiet areas that are available to patrons at any event at the Bradley Symphony Center.
“Our sensory inclusive performance is very family friendly. We have special activities that are adapted for this population and we keep the house lights up at a low level, the doors are open and people can come and go from the hall as they need to. We also have special things that happen on stage, including guest artists that help lead and support the audience,” said Rebecca Whitney, Director of Education
Funding from Wispact not only helped prepare the venue for these special performances, it also allows MSO to provide free or low cost tickets enabling more families to attend the performances together.
EMAIL FROM AN ATTENDEE OF A MSO SENSORY INCLUSIVE PERFORMANCE:
Matthew loves music and experiencing live musicians. Please send our true heartfelt gratitude to those that made this happen, the benefactors for their generosity and having it in a the beautiful theater, the artists that walked us through the performance, the professional musicians who indulged us and the volunteers that made us feel so welcome. I’m sure all who participated are now richer in spirit.
When asked about working with the Wispact Foundation, Seer commented, “I’ve been really pleased to see the passion and the commitment from Wispact team and their dedication to support people with disabilities across Wisconsin. I’m excited to see how our future conversations lead to additional support and more opportunities for people in our area.”
Those interested in donating to the MSO or learning more about their sensory inclusive program can visit mso.org.