Donald Driver is known and loved for many things here in Wisconsin – perhaps most notably for being the Green Bay Packers’ all-time leading wide receiver and a Hall of Famer. But Driver has done a lot of philanthropic and community work since leaving the football field, and his new title is Cultural Ambassador for the Marcus Performing Arts Center (MPAC) in Milwaukee.
Driver is the first cultural ambassador in the history of the organization. The four-year partnership aims to promote the power of the arts, culture and community engagement by making the performing arts more accessible to underserved people in Southeastern Wisconsin.
This new position was developed in part as part of MPAC’s REDI Action Plan, which aims to create a more racially representative and fair culture on and off the stage.
LILY: The Marcus Center sets goals to bring more diversity to the theater
âYou know, I’ve always said I wanted to see change,â says Driver, âand Marcus Performing Arts allowed me to be the voice and face of that change.â
âWe want to see more African-Americans, Latinos and dark-haired people in the seats at the Marcus Performing Arts Center. As we all know, the culture of this performing arts center has been stagnant for a very long time, and we know there is has a child who lives just down the street … who wants to go through these doors one day, and we will try to give them the opportunity to do so, “he adds.
Even though he’s been rooted in Wisconsin for 21 years, Driver admits that the first time he set foot in the center was to meet MPAC CEO and President Kendra Whitlock Ingram about this post.
The driver said, “I have been to Milwaukee millions and millions of times, I just never felt the need to go in. And after our first conversation, I felt it was time to see something a little different than it always has been. I’m a big Broadway guy, I felt like I was always welcome to New York, but I always said, ‘Why not not welcome in your own garden? ‘”
“I’m a big Broadway guy, I felt like I was always welcome to New York, but I always said, ‘Why not be welcome in your own backyard?'”
Driver says he was drawn to Whitlock Ingram’s motivation to create the change. âI saw her heart, I saw her passion. I called her and said, ‘We have to talk’,â he recalls.
Driver was initially involved in the organization as a board member, but they realized he had to be more important than that.
“I was ready to accept the challenge because that’s what I want to see. I think every child, every adult should have the opportunity to experience something that they have never experienced before and we are going to be able to. do, “said the driver.
Throughout this partnership, Driver will work with MPAC to create links between the performing arts and the community through educational content developed with artists during the Marcus Center Presents season. This will include a residency with the Hiplet dance company to exchange ideas on dance, community, athletics and shatter stereotypes in dance.
Upcoming seasons will include more artist collaborations and a co-commission of a new play based on Driver’s. Quick hit series of children’s books.
Driver admits this position is brand new, so it will take some time to shape the model and mission they want to accomplish. But he’s confident it will bring positive changes to the community and let everyone know he’s welcome.
“It will be unique things that I can do that I have never done before, but I think it will allow other people to see that if Donald Driver can do it, then I can do it too,” said said Driver.