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Introducing: Imagine MKE's Executive Director Adam Braatz
Episode 1716th May 2023 • Creative MKE • Imagine MKE
00:00:00 00:46:10

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In this episode, Elisabeth speaks with Adam Braatz, Imagine MKE’s new Executive Director, who stepped into the role in March. With a background in jazz and classical piano, Adam has carved a unique arc in his career, working as a professional musician on Carnival Cruise Lines, followed by enlistment in the Air Force as a musician and Basic Training Instructor, and, more recently, in communications and leadership capacities in the non-profit sector. Outside of his formal roles, Adam has also hosted and produced a podcast, and written a bestselling book.  

During his time in the military, a pivotal deployment to the Middle East changed his perspective on music making forever... as well as his professional trajectory. During and after the performances for dignitaries and young children, Braatz witnessed the power of music to dissolve tensions, defy barriers and create powerful goodwill. The experience helped him to realize his overarching purpose. In the years following, he recognized a calling to work in service of an arts organization that advocates for and amplifies the work of creatives, in his home state of Wisconsin. 

In the conversation, Braatz touches on some of the current priorities of the organization of Imagine MKE, including advocacy at the state and city level through Action! Wisconsin, Wisconsin’s Creative Economy Coalition, contributing to creative workforce development, the Arts and Economic Prosperity 6 Survey which captures data about the economic impact of the arts, neighborhood activations, meaningful storytelling about the power of the arts in the greater Milwaukee area, and professional development opportunities for creatives to expand their competitiveness. Braatz highlights ways in which the new strategic focus of the organization is a continuation of its original premise, but built for the the post-pandemic era.  

In the conversation, Braatz says "golly" earnestly at least twice, and makes good on his last name (pronounced “Brats,” as in the signature sausages one associates with Milwaukee culture)when he attempts to employ a kooky (and, honestly, questionable) metaphor about the creative sector in Milwaukee.  

As the leader of Imagine MKE, Braatz hopes to empower and uplift a new set of arts leaders within our city, and aims to “show not tell” Imagine MKE’s priorities through demonstrating our values in the work that we accomplish in the days to come.  

Follow Adam Braatz on Instagram on LinkedIn and on Twitter.

United States Air Force Bands 

Americans for the Arts  

Arts and Economic Prosperity 6 Survey  

George Filmmaking Incentives 

Milwaukee’s "Brain Drain" 

Saint Kate Arts Hotel  

Adam’s Bestselling Book: LinkedIn Mastery for Veterans and Transitioning Service Members 

Adam’s Podcast and Consulting Business before IMKE 



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