Downtown Kenosha Blog

Downtown Kenosha Blog

Kenosha Fusion

June 28th, 2016


I’m usually with my kids when I’m Downtown Kenosha, but on a rare, kid-free night recently, a friend and I went out to see Naomi Marie perform with The Southport Sound at Fusion.

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Fusion offers a unique live music experience. As The Southport Sound played, my friend and I got swept up in the performance. The space invites tuning out everything but the music. The stage and seating are arranged for an intimate meeting of performer and audience.

I’m not a regular to the performance art scene in Kenosha, so I knew that the performance was wonderful and different, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on why until speaking with Fusion enthusiast and volunteer Steve Hawkins. Hawkins speaks reverently about the difference between Fusion and other venues. For one thing, Fusion’s set-up is state of the art from the lighting and the sound to the multi-camera recording system.

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Fusion is also one of the few places in Kenosha where the performance is the main event. According to founder Don Miller, Fusion opened in Spring 2014 as a place where people come for the show and artists focus on their performance. While many bars and restaurants have live music, the restaurant audience is there for the food, the drinks, and the conversations with friends; the music is an afterthought. At Fusion, the performance is the experience itself.

In addition to The Southport Sound’s regular performance on the first Wednesday of each month, Fusion has other popular recurring events featuring local talent such as the talk show, “Live from Kenosha,” comedy open mic, and general open mic. Weather-permitting, the Sunday night open mic is held on the beautiful outdoor stage with patio seating. Check Fusion’s website for a list of performances from regional and national artist as well.

Fusion’s Hawkins and Miller make it clear that there is a committed group of artists working to expand access to the arts in Downtown Kenosha. It’s also clear that if Kenosha citizens want to keep art venues and performances, we need to be active participants in the art community.

It struck me personally when Miller expressed frustration at residents who say they like having arts in the community but rarely attend events or get involved because they’re too busy. With a young family, full-time job, and graduate school, I’m exactly the type of person he’s talking about. I only recently attended my first event at Fusion despite frequently bragging about our downtown arts scene to outsiders.

So, what can we do? Arts advocates like Miller who can devote their full attention to the arts scene are rare. How can us regular people get involved in keeping the arts scene thriving? First of all, come out to arts events when you can. See a show at Fusion. Attend a play at the Rhode Center for the Arts. Stop in for a featured show or to take a class at Lemon St. Gallery.  View and buy local art at Re:Vision. And, consider volunteering. Your favorite arts venues depend on enthusiastic volunteers.

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For my part, a humble blog post is my contribution.  I’m writing to spread the word about the great things happening at Fusion. I can’t guarantee I’ll get another kid-free night to go out and enjoy a local show again soon, so please get out and enjoy the arts on my behalf.  When I can, I’ll join you.

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