By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Jan 23, 2012 at 5:05 AM

Every year since 2007, Historic Milwaukee, Inc., has feted a Milwaukee organization or business that in the words of executive director Anna-Marie Opgenorth, "exemplifies Milwaukee's spirit, has a strong history in our community and has made an exemplary contribution to our heritage and built environment."

The honoree is then honored with a unique Remarkable Milwaukee event.

The fifth Remarkable Milwaukee is slated for Monday, Jan. 30 and salutes the contributions of The Pabst Theater Foundation with Mike Cudahy and Gary Witt, who, with his staff, runs The Pabst and Riverside Theaters and Turner Hall Ballroom.

"We are honoring the Pabst Theater Foundation this year because we want to celebrate the youthful energy and vitality that comes from, and is a part of, valuing our historic built environment," says Opgenorth.

"The Foundation is standing on the shoulders of three historic theaters. The very particular, open and inviting way the theaters are managed bridges the synaptic gaps between Milwaukee's history, irreplaceable architectural qualities that relay our cultural roots, and artists currently changing our cultural landscape. We are honoring those who've had the vision, the audacity, and the authenticity to pioneer cultural (and economic) growth by investing in Milwaukee's extraordinary historic architecture."

Historic Milwaukee feels it is important that these theaters are not only maintained and used by Milwaukeeans, but that Milwaukeeans understand how the Pabst Theater Foundation came to be and think about what could have been.

The evening comprises two events. A 4:30 p.m. "Envisioning The Seen-MKE" roundable discussion takes place at The Pabst and is followed by a dinner and celebration at Turner Hall Ballroom beginning at 6:30 p.m. Admission to the roundtable is $20. Tickets for both events are $90.

This year's roundtable discussion promises to be an interesting one, focusing on the future of Milwaukee's built environment. Opgenorth has collaborated with Witt to assemble a wide-ranging and engaged panelists, who are expected to think big, or in the words of the event description, "Without limits what would we like to see."

During the event, which takes place on a stage dressed up like a living room, near-legendary Milwaukee bartender Evan Barnes will sling cocktails and an as-yet unnamed barista will pull shots.

Among the panelists are Witt, developers John Kersey and Gary Grunau, Jill Morin of Kahler-Slater, architect Grace La, restaurateurs Joe Bartolotta and Mike Eitel, former mayor John O. Norquist, historian John Gurda, artist Reggie Baylor, Sweetwater Organics' James Godsil, Angela Damiani or Art Milwaukee, and Sara Daleiden on MKE-LAX.

Bruce Block, who practices real estate law at Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren, will moderate the discussion.

"I am really excited to participate in the HMI event as the representative of not only ART Milwaukee, but also NEWaukee and this city's young professionals," says Damiani. "I hope that the conversation delves into the core of the issues that face Milwaukee with respect to the city's brain drain and the efforts organizations like ours, the Greater Milwaukee Committee's MiKE Initiative, Spreenkler Creative and others are making to retain and develop Milwaukee's young talent.

"We have a vibrant city and future here in Milwaukee; I believe we are on the the verge of a changing tide in terms of the influence Milwaukee's young professionals have on the city and the way it functions. I feel honored to speak on behalf of that demographic of Milwaukeeans and look forward to a candid conversation."

Opgenorth says she hopes the panel will be candid, too. The goal she says is to take a "positivist approach," focusing on the city's positive attributes and potential. It should, she adds, also be fun.

"This should not be a critique of Milwaukee or Milwaukeeans," Opgenorth says. "Without limitations what would you like to see for the future of Milwaukee's built environment? What is happening now, could happen now, that will be great for the future of our city and why?

"The roundtable is meant to be entertaining. It will feel like banter; be fast paced. Participants will be jumping in, making jokes and in a celebratory mood. We're honoring The Pabst Theater Foundation – three venues that light up Milwaukee. I'm hoping the audience will go away with that same energy."

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.