Creative Community Champion Awards

(formerly Arts in the Community Awards)
Presented by Arts Wisconsin in partnership with the League of Wisconsin Municipalities

Honoring Wisconsin’s municipal Poets Laureate and Writers-in-Residence

Arts Wisconsin, in partnership with the League of Wisconsin Municipalities, presents the annual Wisconsin Creative Champions Awards (former Arts in the Community Awards).  These awards honor civic leaders as champions and communities in Wisconsin focused on creativity as integral to civic engagement, community vitality, and access for everyone, everywhere in the state.

The 2021 Creative Community Champion honorees are Wisconsin’s municipal Poets Laureate and Writers in Residence:

LaMoine MacLaughlin,
Poet Laureate, City of Amery

Ken Szymanski, Writer in Residence, City of Eau Claire

Joseph Engel, Poet Laureate, City of Kenosha

Angela Trudell Vasquez, Poet Laureate, City of Madison

Dasha Kelly Hamilton,
Poet Laureate,
City of Milwaukee (also Wisconsin Poet Laureate)

Debra Hall, Poet Laureate, City of Racine

Lisa Vihos, Poet Laureate, City of Sheboygan

Dawn Anderson, Poet Laureate, City of Wausau

Poets Laureate and Writers-in-Residence are officially appointed by their municipalities as ambassadors of poetry, literature, literature, and storytelling, and leading community-oriented projects for and with local residents.  Establishing a community Poet Laureate provides opportunities for greater appreciation of poetry and creativity, and recognizes the place that poetry has in a community’s cultural tradition and civic life.   Any community of any size can establish a Poet Laureate or Writer in Residence program.

The Awards will be presented to the Poets Laureate and leaders from their communities at the League of Municipalities’ annual conference, October 21, 2021, in Green Bay.

For more information on the Creative Champion Awards, Wisconsin’s creative sector, and Arts Wisconsin, contact Anne Katz, Executive Director, 608 255 8316 |

About the presenting organizations:

  • Arts Wisconsin is Wisconsin’s community cultural development organization.  Arts Wisconsin works to ensure that everyone, everywhere in the state has the opportunity to in participate 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.
  • 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.   

Generous sponsor of the 2021 awards:

Gold Sponsors:

Silver Sponsors:

Bronze Sponsors:

Rose Sponsor

Previous honorees:

  • 2020:  Zach Vruwink, Administrator, City of Rhinelander and former Mayor, City of Wisconsin Rapids
  • 2019:  the City of Waupaca and the Waupaca Arts and Culture Coalition for ongoing partnership on the city’s first-ever cultural plan, and Altoona Mayor Brendan Pratt
  • 2018:  Ken Juon, President, Board of Directors, Artstart, Rhinelander, and Ryan Heise, Village Administrator, Village of Egg Harbo
  • 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, Shebo2012:  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 Creative Community Champion Awards, Wisconsin’s creative sector, and Arts Wisconsin, contact Anne Katz, Executive Director, 608 255 8316 |