A Letter To Our Parents From Chairperson Barbara Lawton

Dear Friends,

At its May 13, 2011 meeting, the Wisconsin Arts Board discussed the ramifications of the 2011 – 2013 Biennial Budget as amended by Joint Finance and our ensuing responsibilities. Attached please find a sheet that articulates the difficult decisions that were made to minimize the damage to the cultural infrastructure of our state (link above). We provided this information to Governor Walker and to Secretary of Tourism Stephanie Klett earlier this week. What is not articulated on that sheet is the clear acknowledgement of the loss of the state's Percent for Art program. Any arts commission or project within the Percent for Art program that is not under contract by June 30th will not be realized. 

The Arts Board has enjoyed an increasingly productive and mutually supportive relationship with the Department of Tourism over our 38 year history, each agency focused on its unique mission but lending expertise and leveraging strength for the other. As we consolidate our efforts, we look forward to working with Secretary Klett and Deputy Secretary Fantle to determine how the work of the Arts Board can deepen the Department’s work in cultural tourism and leverage resources in the Department to provide opportunities for the cultural workers and resources of our state. 

The Arts Board will continue to lead in the development of the state’s creative economy. We look forward to partnering with the new Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation in this work. The dynamic creative sector enjoys a 14% annual growth rate in the world economy; in Wisconsin, it boasts 3.6% of total employment. We’ve been developing rural and urban models for partnerships that ensure vibrant, creative communities become the breeding ground for entrepreneurs and new jobs. That work will continue.

As the Arts Board assists local and regional economic development organizations to develop their creative industries, it should be noted that we put our state at the helm of the National Creativity Network, an organization that seeks to promote imagination, creativity, and innovation in education, culture, and commerce. George Tzougros is the Chairman of this national organization. We will also continue our leadership in education innovation to develop all our state's children's creative capacities with our Task Force on the Arts and Creativity in Education. And we will advocate for creativity in all its forms – in the arts and humanities, as well as in science, technology, engineering and math. 

Here is our timeline going forward, assuming no further changes by the Legislature or Governor and that the budget is signed by June 30:

  • June 30/July 1 – Move agency’s physical assets to the Department of Tourism's building at 201West Washington Avenue (four blocks from our current location)
  • July 5 – Generate award/denial letters for Creation and Presentation grantees
  • July 27 – Creative Communities: Arts Education grant review panel meeting (Madison)
  • August 11 – Creative Communities: Local Arts grant review panel meeting (Madison) 
  • September 16-17 – Wisconsin Arts Board quarterly board meeting (location TBD)
  • September 19 – Generate award/denial letters for Creative Communities grant applicants

Our work to provide high-quality services, smart development of our cultural infrastructure and workforce, assistance to Wisconsin’s communities to address their challenges, and our new relationship with the Department of Tourism, will be significant as we continue our efforts to ensure the resiliency of our state. Toward that end, we will publicize a revised Wisconsin Arts Board FY12-14 Strategic Plan in July, 2011. That plan reflects both the new terms of our reality and our ambition for the future of the arts in Wisconsin. We look forward to continuing our work with you.


Barbara Lawton