“Arts In The Community” Awards

Arts Wisconsin recognizes creative champions with 2019 Arts in the Community Awards

Arts Wisconsin, Wisconsin’s statewide community cultural development organization, announces the eleventh annual Arts in the Community Awards.  The awards were presented to the honorees on Thursday, October 24, 2019 during the League of Wisconsin Municipalities’ 121th annual conference, at the KI Center/Hyatt Regency in Green Bay, WI.

The awards, presented by Arts Wisconsin in partnership with the League of Wisconsin Municipalities, honor civic leaders and communities throughout the state for championing the arts as integral to economic, educational and community vitality.

The 2019 honorees are:

Mayor Brendan Pratt, Mayor, City of Altoona, WI
Mayor Pratt has served on the Altoona City Council for 12+ years, with the last three years as Mayor. Throughout his tenure with the city, Mayor Pratt has been an enthusiastic champion of the arts as a means for civic engagement, placemaking, and community investment.   Among his accomplishments:

  • the design, development and programming of River Prairie Park and related development. Mayor Pratt has played an integral role in the success of River Prairie, largely due to his continuing advocacy for artful design and his commitment to involving showcasing the arts within the park’s public space. Mayor Pratt supported public art as civic investment in the park, resulting in “Nexus at River Prairie,” a major sculpture completed by Design Fugitives from Milwaukee. The sculpture marks the southern entrance of the park and the headwaters of Prairie Creek, a man-made river feature that serves to tie the entire park together and provides a fun play structure for children that visit the park.  Plans are in the works for future public art works in the park and the area.
  • advocating and raising money for free quality entertainment in the park, through the “Rockin’ on the River,” “Kickin’ it Country,” and “Fusion Music” concert series, featuring country, folk, blues, and rock music. These concerts have been well-received and attended by 1,500-2,000 people weekly.  All three music series also feature plenty of space for people to dance, food trucks, and craft and farmers’ markets. The Mayor spearheaded the establishment of soliciting donations from the audience to benefit local charities and parks and recreation programming to sustain the music series.  He has personally overseen raising sponsorship dollars to support programming and pay the performers a very fair performance fee.
  • supporting continuous arts integration in the park, through such projects as a city partnership with the School District of Altoona art and shop programs to create toad and fairy houses placed in the gardens in River Prairie as play features for visitors, and constructing beautiful sculptural and functional bird houses for both the visiting public and the birds to enjoy.
Waupaca Cultural Plan, a community-based public-private partnership
In 2016, Waupaca Mayor Brian Smith, former City Administrator Henry Veleker, the Waupaca Area Chamber of Commerce, and the Waupaca Community Arts Board, presented an Arts Summit that led to a cultural planning process focused on:

·       historic and heritage celebration and preservation

·       collaboration and connectedness through the arts and community

·       creativity and vision for the city’s future

·       improving quality of life through the arts, culture and creativity

The Arts Summit led to a cultural planning process, made possible with investments of time and funding by the city, involvement and ideas of dedicated community members, and facilitation by Arts Wisconsin.  The process resulted in the first-ever Waupaca Comprehensive Cultural Plan, a deeply collaborative public-private partnership to intentionally grow and build capacity for a strong arts presence in the every-day lives of all Waupaca residents.

The plan’s four goals – the arts as a community resource and as a family resource, the arts and quality of life, and connecting, strengthening and building bridges between the arts and business, education, government, civic issues, and residents – provide a roadmap for long-term, sustainable arts and cultural development and community based cultural planning and engagement.

Since the plan was unanimously approved by the City Council in 2017, its goals, objectives and strategies have guided a pro-active and growing network of community activists with a shared vision and purpose.  Arts groups and leaders have come together to form the Waupaca Area Arts and Culture Network (WAACN), a coalition meant to collaborate, share marketing strategies and reference the goals in the Arts and Culture Plan.  In just a year since the Network’s inception, Waupaca has seen a sharp increase in the amount of engagement by all groups, with additional groups forming. Waupaca’s arts sector now works collaboratively and continually asks, “who else should be at the table?”  Examples of this new and exciting partnership spirit abound and advance progress towards a community built on the arts and culture.

Generous sponsors of the 2019 awards:

  • Heid Music,  a music education center and a full line music playground, in Appleton, Green Bay, Madison, Oshkosh and Stevens Point
  • Redevelopment Resources of Madison, WI, providing customized economic development and strategic planning solutions for the development and redevelopment of communities
  • Vierbicher of Madison, Pewaukee, Prairie du Chien, and Reedsburg, WI, providing consulting services to guide and deliver quality land and community development.
  • Wisconsin Downtown Action Council, advocating for strong, vibrant downtowns statewide.

About the presenting organizations:

·       Arts Wisconsin is Wisconsin’s community cultural development organization.  Celebrating 25 years in 2017, Arts Wisconsin works to ensure that everyone, everywhere in the state has the opportunity to participate in the arts, speaks up and advocates for, and advances the arts, creativity and culture throughout Wisconsin, and connects and serves the wide-ranging, diverse, creative people, organizations, businesses and communities making the arts come alive in every corner of the state.  www.artswisconsin.org.

·       The League of Wisconsin Municipalities is a nonprofit and nonpartisan association of cities and villages that acts as an information clearinghouse, lobbying organization, technical assistance provider, and legal resource throughout Wisconsin.  www.lwm-info.org.

Previous Arts in the Community honorees:

·       2018:  Ken Juon, President, Board of Directors, Artstart, Rhinelander, and Ryan Heise, Village Administrator, Village of Egg Harbor

·       2017:  Mark Elliott, Executive Director, Northwest Passage, Webster; and Stephanie Samarripa, Anti-Graffiti Program Coordinator, City of Milwaukee Department of Neighborhood Services

·       2016:  Creative Downtown Appleton, led by Josh Dukelow, community activist, and Paula Vandehey, City of Appleton Public Works Director; and Alan Nugent, civic leader and a founder of the Widespot Performing Arts Center in Stockholm

·       2015:  the City of West Bend, for long-term commitment to promote the visual and performing arts in West Bend; and the Waunakee Creative Economy Initiative, a village-led, ongoing effort to grow Waunakee’s creative economy.

·       2014:  Circuit Court Judge Joseph Boles and Pierce County Criminal Justice Coordinating Council, based in Ellsworth, WI, for using the arts to improve law enforcement training in de-escalating mental health crisis calls; and Reedsburg Mayor Dave Estes, Reedsburg City Administrator Ken Witt, and Reedsburg Chamber of Commerce Director Kristine Koenecke for support of Fermentation Fest – A Live Culture Convergence and the Farm/Art DTour. 

·       2013:  Rice Lake Main Street Program, Rice Lake; and the Sheboygan Performing Arts Association, Sheboygan

·       2012:  State Sen. Sheila Harsdorf, River Falls; State Sen. Bob Jauch, Poplar; Marlene Doerr Kreilkamp, Founder/former Director, SHARP Literacy, Milwaukee; and Anastasia Shartin, Visual Arts Director, Phipps Center for the Arts, Hudson

·       2011:  Bill Schierl, President, Arts Alliance of Portage County, Stevens Point; and former Mayor Jeff Scrima, Waukesha

·       2010: Lois Smith, founder of “Walls of Wittenberg,” Wittenberg; Julia Taylor, President, Greater Milwaukee Committee, Milwaukee; the Green Bay Neighborhood Leadership Council’s Beautification Committee, Green Bay; and The Hometown Gazette newspaper, Clayton

·       2009:  Carol Kratchowill, Vice President, Sauk County Art Association, Merrimac; and Former Menomonie Mayor Dennis Cropp and former Dunn County Board member B. Jane Hoyt, for the Mabel Tainter Center for the Arts, Menomonie.

For more information on the Arts in the Community Awards, Wisconsin’s creative sector, and Arts Wisconsin, contact Anne Katz, Executive Director, 608 255 8316 | akatz@artswisconsin.org.