By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Mar 01, 2023 at 4:04 PM

The Pabst Theater Group announced Wednesday that sale of the seats removed last summer from the 1895 venue, 144 E. Wells St., garnered $60,000 for two area nonprofits.

Milwaukee Area Domestic Animal Control Center (MADACC) and ArtWorks for Milwaukee each received $30,000 from The Pabst Theater Group, which sold more than 100 pairs of seats as part of its marking its 20th anniversary running the theater.

New seats were installed in the Pabst on July 27 last year.

"When theaters replace their chairs, they are almost always simply thrown away,” said Pabst Theater Group President & CEO Gary Witt in the announcement. "Out with the old and in with the new.

"These theater seats have played a role in the rebirth of the Pabst Theater and they’ve witnessed magical performances over the last 20-plus years. And, because we are a Milwaukee business, we knew that these historic seats could continue to do good in Milwaukee."

As I noted last summer, though the decorative brass row ends and wooden arm rests appear old, it’s unlikely any of the removed seating is original to the theater. First floor seating was replaced as part of restoration work in 1975, and, potentially, during renovations in 1928, 1996 and around 2002, too.

"We’re proud to know that buyers now hold a personal piece of a National Historic Landmark in their living rooms, home theaters and offices and – together – we’re able to financially support the amazing work that MADACC and ArtWorks for Milwaukee does to help animals and students in the city that we love," Witt added.

The Pabst Theater Group has a longstanding relationship with MADACC to which it has donated more $62,000.

“To be included in an event so special and to be the co-recipient of such generosity is truly an honor for MADACC,” said Karen Sparapani, executive director of MADACC.

“The Pabst Theater Group and MADACC have long been aligned in working to address social justice and animal welfare issues knowing that together we can do so much more for the community that needs us. Especially for the animals in the community and the people who love and care about them and for the next generation of artists and creative minds who will take over this job for us someday.”

A new partner, ArtWorks for Milwaukee provides job training and paid internships in the arts to area high school students.

The connection was made by Pabst sponsor Associated Bank.

"We are thrilled to be a recipient of proceeds from the Pabst Theater Group’s Chairs for Charity sale," said Terry Murphy, executive director of ArtWorks for Milwaukee. "Our teen interns build confidence and transferable job skills through community-based art projects that are the foundation of our internships.

"This tremendous donation will go a long way in ArtWorks' ability to offer Milwaukee high school students paid work experience in the arts."

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.