2017 Arts in the Community Awards

Watch for information about the 2018 Awards, to be released during the week of July 9, 2018.

Arts Wisconsin, awardslogo2016Wisconsin’s community cultural development organization, presented the ninth annual Arts in the Community Awards on October 19, 2017, in Appleton, WI.

Awardees Stephanie Samirripa and Mark Elliott with Arts Wisconsin Director Anne Katz and Board member Jennifer Stephany.

The awards, presented by Arts Wisconsin in partnership with the League of Wisconsin Municipalities and made possible with generous support from Heid Music, Redevelopment Resources, and Vierbicher Associates, honor civic leaders and communities throughout the state for championing the arts as integral to economic, educational and community vitality.

The 2017 awardees were:

  • Mark Elliott, Executive Director, Northwest Passage, Webster, WI
    Mark Elliott has led Northwest Passage, which provides innovative residential mental health services to at-risk youth ages 12-17 and their families through innovative mental health services, since 2000.   NWP’s cornerstone therapeutic arts program is In a New Light, using photography as a medium for expression and healing.  Since 2012, photography art by NWP youth has been supported by the National Park Service and other national, state and local funders, and has been exhibited in more than 40 locations locally and nationally.  The In a New Light Gallery in Webster showcases NWP students’ artwork  to the public, giving youth a platform upon which to use their art to rewrite society’s narrative about themselves and other vulnerable youth like them. The gallery has filled a decade-old arts and culture void in the area and is one of only a few art galleries in Burnett County.
  • Stephanie Samarripa, Anti-Graffiti Program Coordinator, City of Milwaukee Department of Neighborhood Services, Milwaukee, WI  
    Since 2012, the City of Milwaukee’s Department of Neighborhood Services has been committed to ensuring that public art is created in neighborhoods with, by, and for the residents of that neighborhood, reclaiming public space through art as sources of pride for residents and the community.  The Department of Neighborhood Services has historically been involved in fighting blight through correction of building code violations.  The outreach beautification efforts leverage building knowledge and community connections to support a multi-faceted outreach section that partners with community groups, artist collectives, and residents to create public art that is reflective of Milwaukee’s rich diversity and heritage.    The most recent public art project, Sherman Park Rising, led by artist Tia Richardson, will be unveiled at a ribbon-cutting ceremony on September 22, 2017.

The award winners were recognized at the League of Municipalities’ 119th annual conference on Thursday, October 19, 2017, at the Radisson Paper Valley Hotel in downtown Appleton. The awardees participated in a conference panel discussion on the benefits, impact and value of the arts and creative economy in and for Wisconsin communities.

Many thanks to our generous sponsors!Printheidmusic

  • Heid Music of Appleton, Green Bay, Madison, Oshkosh and Wisconsin Rapids, providing musical instruments and quality music instruction throughout the statevierbicher
  • Redevelopment Resources, Madison and Wausau, providing customized economic development and strategic planning solutions for the development and redevelopment of communities
  • Vierbicher Associates, Reedsburg, Madison and Prairie du Chien, providing consulting services to guide and deliver quality land and community development.

“The Arts in the Community Awards are a wonderful way to celebrate visionary leadership in and advocacy for the arts in Wisconsin’s communities,” says Arts Wisconsin Board President Ann Huntoon. “We’re proud to partner with the League of Municipalities to present these awards, and appreciative of the sponsors who make the awards possible.”  

The Arts in the Community awards are unique works of glass art designed and created by Matthew Heindl of Maatwerk Studios in Blue Mounds, WI.

Previous Arts in the Community award winners are:


  • Creative Downtown Appleton, led by Josh Dukelow, community activist, and Paula Vandehey, City of Appleton Public Works Director, engaging the arts and culture in all aspects of community placemaking
  • Alan Nugent, business and cultural tourism leader and a founder of the Widespot Performing Arts Center in Stockholm


  • The City of West Bend for steadfast and long-term commitment to promote the visual and performing arts in West Bend; Kraig Sadownikow, City of West Bend Mayor and Craig Hoeppner, City of West Bend Parks, Recreation & Forestry Director.
  • Waunakee Creative Economy Initiative, for this Village-led, ongoing effort identify existing sources of creativity and innovation throughout the village, and foster their growth into a formidable sector of the local economy; the Village Board and Todd Schmidt, Village Administrator and Economic Development Director.


  • Circuit Court Judge Joseph Boles and Pierce County Criminal Justice Coordinating Council, based in Ellsworth, WI, for the development and implementation of a civic strategy to improve law enforcement training in de-escalating mental health crisis calls, using a variety of arts disciplines as teaching tools.
  • 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. 


  • Rice Lake Main Street Program, Rice Lake
  • Sheboygan Performing Arts Association, Sheboygan


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


  • Bill Schierl, President, Arts Alliance of Portage County, Stevens Point
  • Mayor Jeff Scrima, Waukesha


  • 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
  • The Hometown Gazette newspaper, Clayton


  • Carol Kratchowill, Vice President, Sauk County Art Association, Merrimac
  • Menomonie Mayor Dennis Cropp and former Dunn County Board member B. Jane Hoyt, on behalf of the Mabel Tainter Center for the Arts, Menomonie