MKE Plays Update

The City of Milwaukee’s MKE Plays Initiative, and AWE are partnering to help design creative new play spaces for Milwaukee youth through an innovative playground redevelopment program. Last year, the MKE Plays program received a prestigious “Our Town” grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. AWE has been partnering on the project to gain community input, and work with neighborhood youth to create public artwork for four out of the twelve playgrounds the City is redeveloping.

Greenfield Bilingual Students with their temporary art installation at Trowbridge Park

You can read more from our initial announcement of this project here.


During this project, MKE Plays and AWE are partnering with Greenfield Bilingual School, Neighborhood House, Jazale’s Art Studio, Pearls for Teen Girls, and COA Goldin to pair professional artists with youth in the creation of public artwork. All the projects have started, though the creative process and artwork will reflect the unique interests and values of each group.

Artist George Jones is working with youth from Neighborhood House to develop artwork for Merrill Park. They have discussed themes of unity, community, and expression. Youth from the Burnham Park neighborhood are working with artist John Kowalczyk to create artistic gateways for Trowbridge Park (37th & Branting) and mosaic table tops. Youth from COA Goldin and artist Tia Richardson are interested in thematic imagery. They have discussed utilizing a swing in their artistic design, emphasizing expressions of freedom and love. Their playground is located at 21st & Keefe. The new summer youth groups from Pearls for Teen Girls and Jazale’s Art Studio are starting fresh conversations about land use and themes for their playground site in the Harambee neighborhood.

All projects are expected to be completed sometime in the fall. Stay tuned for more information as these exciting projects develop!


“Play has a big smile. They like to have fun with everyone. Play has many activities to do. They always want to make people happy and make them stay positive as much as possible. Play has a nice personality and likes to spend time with family and friends. Play is really creative in whatever they do. Play likes to listen to songs and dance. Play likes to adventure in nature and play outside. Play wears bright clothes to show it’s feelings.”

– poem written by Nathalia of Greenfield Bilingual School at a MKE Plays neighborhood meeting