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  • Writer's pictureElisabeth Gasparka

Pushing Milwaukee's Culture w/Geraud Blanks

Geraud Blanks has always been willing to push boundaries. From his early days at UWM leading the student organization SCOPE—to his work as Chief Innovation Officer at MKE Film, Blanks has been driven by desire to act as a storyteller, to bring communities together around meaningful programs, with a taste for going “big.” Brought on to the team at MKE Film in 2014 to co-launch the Black Lens Series, Blanks brought with him a deep love of film, music, and poetry, and a vision for how MKE Film’s programming could expand.

Over the years, Blanks’ risk-taking for the sake of stirring “good trouble” has paid off. Milwaukee Film’s Black Lens program has blossomed and expanded, and the scope of Blanks’ role has too. He now curates the annual Cultures and Communities Festival, with its fifth iteration coming up this October. It’s a series of film screenings and events all over the city held at diverse venues centered on “health, wellness, joy, art, culture and ultimately, community.”


Though there have been times over the years when certain programs didn’t go the way he anticipated—Blanks’ innovative, boundary-pushing programming continues to be a labor of love, and a way of pressing the whole Milwaukee community forward.

Blanks sees Milwaukee’s future as bright. With increased support of local and state government, he thinks Milwaukee can become a film town on the level of Atlanta: a place where the film industry can thrive and infuse our local economy with diverse revenue streams in and around film productions, in hospitality and craft services, for example. Blanks wants MKE Film to lead and support the advocacy for film incentives, and continue to innovate and uplift emerging talent along the way.


Ultimately, as Blanks reflects, “culture is life.” He’s proud of the ways that the team at MKE Film is shaping Milwaukee—and he’s hopeful about the ways MKE Film and support for the arts including filmmaking may shape the community’s future as city that is renowned for its culture and opportunities in the arts. Read or listen to our full conversation with Geraud below:


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