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The Rep at 60

A conversation with Managing Director Chad Bauman

Dec. 11, 2013
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As the Milwaukee Repertory Theater celebrates its 60th anniversary, Off the Cuff sat down with new Managing Director Chad Bauman to discuss his background, goals for the Rep and the day-to-day operations of a successful nonprofit.


What originally drew you to the Rep?

I was working at Arena Stage in Washington, D.C., and we were in the process of working with the Milwaukee Rep on a co-production, One Night With Janis Joplin, so I’d gotten to know the Rep a little bit. And I flew out here and saw an exquisite production of A Raisin in the Sun and that sort of hooked me.


How will your experience working with the prominent nonprofits Arena Stage and Americans for the Arts inform your work at the Rep and with other Milwaukee nonprofits? 

Milwaukee Rep has a very similar model to Arena as a nonprofit. We currently have a 65%-earned-35%-contributed model, which means on a $10 million operating budget, we have to raise $3.5 million a year. So that makes anybody in this chair a fundraiser. The Rep having 60 years of involvement in this community makes the job much easier, but [Artistic Director] Mark Clements and I are like the lead cheerleaders of this company. In the last several years we’ve been heavily involved with nonprofit organizations all over the city. For example, just a couple weeks ago I wrote a grant and we received funding from the Bader Foundation to bring in 300 children from the Boys and Girls Club to see A Christmas Carol.


What changes do you hope to make at the Rep during the next three-to-five years?

I think we have to build capacity in terms of contributed revenue. We’re also going to need to produce a new version of A Christmas Carol in three-to-five years. Our work in new play development is a strategic priority. I think our continued work on expanding capacity as a company is important. Ragtime was a good indicator of our capability to create.


Your bachelor’s degree is in speech and theater education and your MFA in producing and theater management. It seems you know both the artistic and the business ends of theater. How does this inform your approach as managing director?

My graduate degree is in producing, which was specifically geared toward understanding the artistic process as well as the business process. Mark and I talk about artistic projects all the time. If I didn’t have a thorough understanding of art or theater, it would be very difficult to run a theater company. But at the same time, I can read a balance sheet just as well as anybody else.


Where are you from originally? Favorite thing about Milwaukee?

Missouri. Milwaukee as a city is very cool. It’s small enough so I can get almost anywhere at any time, but large enough to feel metropolitan. The Rep does an amazing job in the theater world for Milwaukee, but you also have the museum and the ballet and the symphony, and it’s a part of an overall ecosystem that I bet would be hard to replicate in any city this size in the United States.


Check milwaukeerep.com for updates regarding their 60th Anniversary Gala on Saturday, May 10, 2014.


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