A Return to Normalcy: Live Shows Return to Monroe Arts Center

This beloved Monroe, Wis., venue is once again welcoming visitors for art displays and in-person entertainment. Sneak a peek at what’s ahead in the coming months.

Visitors to Monroe Arts Center often stop to marvel at the stained glass that appears throughout this former Methodist church building.

An important value of the arts is that they have the innate ability to lift the spirits for all who enjoy musical performances, creative photography or the imaginative painter’s brush strokes.

The long pandemic that touched everyone these past two years certainly impeded the enjoyment of artistic creation and learning. But there’s light at the end of the tunnel. The beloved Monroe Arts Center (MAC) in Monroe, Wis., is opening its doors again after nearly a 19-month drought.

The MAC is renowned for showcasing a broad range of performance art, visual arts displays, exhibits, competitions, classes and community events focused to entertain, educate and broaden knowledge of the arts for all ages.

It’s been a tough time, but everyone is ready.

“We have an amazing staff at MAC dedicated to doing whatever is needed to get the job done,” says Kathy Hennessy, executive director. “The same stands for our amazing volunteers who’ll help us reopen for our community to attend and enjoy the arts.”

Recently, the Monroe Arts Center opened its live performance season when it snagged the renowned Seth Rudetsky, Seth’s Big Fat Broadway Show from New York, to perform in MAC’s Gunderson Stiles Concert Hall.

“I’m so grateful that Seth agreed to come to Monroe, particularly at this time,” says Hennessy, who has known Rudetsky through her many contacts in the Big Apple. “It was such an act of generosity for him to perform here.”

Several shows have been scheduled through May, including The Caroling Connection, Victorian-costumed a cappella Christmas carolers, happening Dec. 11. On Jan. 8, the charismatic Javier Colon graces the stage with his distinctive voice and acoustic guitar; and on Jan. 15, the Missoula Children’s Theatre comes to town. The Hillbenders bring their WhoGrass performs on Feb. 18; Discovering Antarctica visits MAC on March 5 and the award-winning Becky Buller Band performs April 16.

Meanwhile, visitors can enjoy MAC’s art displays Tuesday through Friday by appointment only.

Part of the permanent collection in The Color Room includes “A Mural Project” by Mike LRoy. The Color Room spans the MAC stairway between the first and second floor of the Wellington Gallery.

An added benefit of meandering the halls or entering the concert hall at MAC is to relish the exquisite details of a former Methodist church building that’s housed MAC since 1976. Visitors marvel at the large rose window and other beautiful intricate stained glass.

Constructed of Cream City brick, the building was commissioned in 1869 by the First Methodist Episcopal congregation of Monroe and was designed by famous architect E. Townsend Nix. In 1975, the building was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

There are many more ways to engage with MAC. The venue arranges for artists to perform for area schoolchildren through its Performances in the Schools programs. MAC also presents the annual Wisconsin Regional Arts Program and the annual Photography Contest and Exhibit.

Under the guidance of the Green County Public Health Department, the Monroe Arts Center has employed health and safety precautions with protocol guidelines for its performers, who must be vaccinated, and guests, who must wear masks and present proof of vaccination and an ID while attending a performance.

Order tickets or schedule a museum visit online at monroeartscenter.com.