EXCLUSIVE: Filmmaker John Ridley, who won an Oscar for his adapted screenplay 12 Years a Slave, is taking over a building in what is known as the Pabst Brewery Complex in Milwaukee to create a creative hub for artists in his hometown. No Studios, a 40,000 square foot building, was purchased by Ridley and his business partner Chris Abele to become a home to artists who want to create or curate and present their art. It will also contain a 50-seat screening room. It will open in September.
“I was born and raised in Milwaukee and have family here. I’m proud to be from this city and I’m excited about giving back,” said Ridley. “With No Studios, we want to create a place where people can socialize with purpose and go about the hard work that’s at the core of creativity, as well as come together and celebrate art. Our goal is to make the space itself, and Milwaukee by extension, a destination for artists, artisans and patrons from across the country, and around the world.”
The name No Studios was hand-picked by Ridley and has a double meaning. “No” is the Japanese root word for skill, talent, artistic endeavor, while the English word “no” is one that artists hear many times throughout their careers and yet continue to create, in spite of many obstacles.
In the Midwest, Milwaukee is known for having a deep bench of creative talent. Over the past decade-plus, the waterfront was developed into a thriving tourist area with a major art museum. Two years ago, the city mounted a $30M+ expansion for the museum and surrounding area.
No Studios will be a welcome addition to Milwaukee as it aims to become a a sustainable model for bringing arts to the city. It will include long-term and short-term office space for local individuals, organizations, and companies in creative fields, the screening room, food and beverage services, galleries, as well as a rooftop event space.
The list of tenants currently on board includes Milwaukee Film, Milwaukee Filmmaker Alliance, 371 Productions, Custom Reality Services, UWM School of Film, Marquette University, and the largest post production house in Wisconsin. Milwaukee Film will occupy an entire floor in the building and is slated to move in this spring.
In addition to serving as a physical space for the creative community and art lovers in Milwaukee — and for those of you who know the city, No Studios will be located at 1037 West McKinley Avenue — No Studios will present year-round programming that will both provide an opportunity for local artists to present their work as well as bring in renowned artisans and artists working in a variety of creative fields from around the world to share their knowledge and work with Milwaukee.
Ridley’s critically acclaimed documentary about the Los Angeles uprising Let it Fall: Los Angeles 1982-1992 premiered is currently available on Netflix after it debuted on ABC and theatrically. Ridley was also the creator, director, and executive producer of ABC’s Emmy-winning series American Crime. His limited series Guerilla, starring Idris Elba, Freida Pinto and Babou Ceesay, aired last year on Showtime and Sky.
The opening of No Studios later this year will include film screenings and discussions, dance and music performances, readings, as well as photographic and fine art exhibitions. The for-profit company is partnering with local businesses Abacus Architects, Associated Bank, CSA Commercial, Greenfire Management Services LLC, marketing agency Rev Pop Inc., and communications firm Buzz Monkeys Inc.