This Friday’s Urban Cabaret, an annual event that highlights the people and programs of the Urban League of Greater Madison, will raise money for the Black Business Hub, which is looking to become the Madison area’s premiere enterprise center devoted to incubating, accelerating, and networking diverse businesses and entrepreneurs.
Dr. Ruben L. Anthony, Jr., president & CEO of the Urban League of Greater Madison, has been watching this dream, which first broke ground in April of 2022 in the heart of South Madison, come to fruition.
“It’s very emotional for me when you are coming off the Beltline [Highway] from the west side, and then I turn and see the [Black Business [Hub] and I’m like, ‘Holy Mackerel, what a difference this thing is going to make!” Anthony tells Madison365. “And then as I walk people through — I’ve probably given maybe 100 tours already of the facility — to show people the different stages of the development, and it’s just amazing.
“Summit Credit Union and WWBIC (Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corporation) opened up recently. WEDC (Wisconsin Economic Development Corp) is getting ready to come in there soon,” he continues. “These different pieces are opening up and it’s like a dream just slowly unfolding right in front of our eyes. The space is just beautiful.”
After a three-year hiatus, ULGM’s Urban Cabaret is back … and it will take place for the first time at the new Black Business Hub. The Urban Cabaret was first inspired by Dr. Maya Angelou’s “Cabaret for Freedom,” a fundraiser for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference held in 1960. Providing a stage for local artists to perform and to help tell the story of the African-American experience seemed like a natural way for the Urban League to get its message out.
This year’s Cabaret will feature two events. At 6 p.m., there will be an opportunity to ascend to the Hub’s rooftop patio for a premium cigar and bourbon tasting experience featuring a panoramic view of the city, farm-raised organic charcuterie, hand-dipped chocolates, and live music.
“The initial event will go until 7:30 p.m. It is a cigar and bourbon fundraiser and also a part of it is champagne and chocolate,” Anthony says. “So we will be selling bricks and pavers and all those things at that event. As part of the early event, we’ll have Christopher from Christopher Projects, doing a little music, and there’ll be food.”
The second event starts at 7:30 p.m. and goes until 9:30 p.m.
“At the main event, we’ll have Lord Yancyy, the international jazz artist. He played at our [annual Urban Lague] Unity Picnic and people just loved him so we’re bringing him back by popular demand. Christopher’s Project will also perform,” Anthony says.
There will be an array of entrees prepared by Chefs Yusuf Bin-Rella, Oscar Villarreal, James Bloodsaw, and Kingsley Gobourne. Specialty entrees and desserts prepared by local chefs can be enjoyed throughout the evening.
Anthony says that this year’s Cabaret will be a little different as ULGM tries to close out its fundraising for the Hub. This year’s ticket purchase will be matched dollar-for-dollar thanks to the Packers Challenge Grant from the Green Bay Packers Foundation.
“The Packers gave us a $250,000 challenge grant and coming into the event, we had raised about $200,000 of the $250,000. So we hoping to close out that challenge grant with this event,” Anthony says. “We’re trying to raise $26 million for the core and the shell of the Hub. Right now, we’re at about $25.9 million. So we’re about $100,000 away from that.
“To account for tenant improvement and for the great inflation we have seen, we are trying to raise an additional $3 million so that we can have funds to help the small, minority businesses come in there and help with their buildouts as well,” he adds.
This will be the second event that the Urban League of Greater Madison has hosted at the new space, as the greater community got its first glimpse of the Black Business Hub at Urban League of Greater Madison’s ninth annual Unity Picnic back in July.
“This place is going to be just a tremendous asset for this region … not just for the local community, but for this region, because many of these businesses, they’re going to come there to get their start,” Anthony says. “These businesses are going to grow and they’re going to outgrow the hub and they will go on to the West Side, the East Side, Sun Prairie and other places in the region.
“You’ve got so many resources that are going to be there ready to help these businesses. We know that in Dane County, they’ve got over 10,000 businesses that have more than one employee. But only 41 of those businesses are African-American businesses,” Anthony continues. “Already we’ve touched over 50 businesses with our training and that’s just a glimpse of what the potential holds for this Black Business Hub. This Black Business Hub is going to be an economic generator that’s going to give to this community for multiple generations to come.”
Previous annual Urban Cabarets would host about 600-700 people, but Anthony says that this year’s event will be capped at 250 attendees.
“Once we reach 250, we’re gonna stop, because we don’t want to get the place too crowded yet. So people are encouraged to register as soon as they can,” he says.
The Black Business Hub is located at 2352 S. Park Street. Tickets for the Urban Cabaret can be purchased here.