Milwaukee is enjoying a musical renaissance, but the youth have consistently lacked outlets to explore and hone their crafts. The city’s youth are eager to prove their worth as a new generation of artists and leaders. It’s on us to rise to the occasion and create these desperately needed youth spaces.

The New State is a redevelopment project lead by the minds, hands, and hearts of those who care about our cities future in arts education and entertainment. The building is a historical facility in Milwaukee’s Near West Side in the need of serious renovation after a fire in 2017, that will contribute towards the financial, artistic and social well-being of our city.  With your help, and once finished with renovation, The New State Theater will become a hotbed for youth arts and will house a combination of non- and for-profit businesses, sharing and collaborating in the space.

This will include:

  • Contemporary, all-ages, sober MUSIC VENUE (capacity of 415)
  • Consignment STORE
  • CLASSROOMS and PERFORMANCE SPACE for youth classes and workshops focusing on modern music (hip hop/rap, electronic), performance skills and professional development as musicians.


The New State theater has venerable musical roots in Milwaukee’s arts and performance history. It first opened in 1915 as a silent film theater, then the 50s and 60s it became the Friendship Club, a squeaky-clean dance hall. In the late 70s, rock and roll took over as The Electric Ballroom and The Palms Music Club, a stop on the way to stardom for an amazing array of bands who played there.

After a brief period as Hoops, the State Theater sat empty for over 20 years and suffered a devastating fire in February of 2017. With help from the Milwaukee community and beyond, The New State will breathe life back into this historic landmark, heralding a new generation of music and culture in the city.


The Ramones, The Police, Dire Straits, THE PLASMATICS, George Thorogood & The Destroyers, Peter Tosh, The Pretenders,The Tourists with Annie Lennox, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, Humble Pie, Huey Lewis and the News, The Psychedelic Furs, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, Cheap Trick, Meatloaf, and Eddie Money ALL PLAYED AT 2616 W STATE - Even U2 (on April 15, 1981) and Metallica (on Dec. 14,1983).

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WSAU is collecting donations to spearhead The New State redevelopment project.

In addition to grants, help from the community is what will make this vision a reality.

WSAU is a 501 (c) 3 non-profit corporation and has submitted the paperwork to achieve tax exempt status.

Fundraising Goals


We are currently crowdfunding the first phase of The New State on Thank you for your support!

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