On March 15, 2016, Governor Walker presented Kathy Foley, the Woodson’s Executive Director, with the award during the closing dinner of the Governor’s Conference on Tourism in Wisconsin Dells.
Sponsored by the Governor’s Council on Tourism, The Governor’s Tourism Awards recognize individuals, organizations and businesses for their commitment to excellence, achievements, dedication, and leadership, which have an impact on Wisconsin’s travel and hospitality industry.
In honoring the Woodson’s achievements, the Council noted that visitors from around the world have been discovering the museum’s natural and artistic beauty for over 40 years. The museum draws more than 50,000 national and international visitors for its flagship Birds in Art exhibit, impressive temporary exhibitions and diverse cultural programs. In fact, visitors to the museum have had an estimated $1.3 million economic impact on the Wausau area. As Birds in Art celebrates its 40th anniversary, a remarkable milestone for the museum, it acts as a reminder of the impact the museum has had on Northern Wisconsin and the rest of the state.
Past Arts, Culture and Heritage Tourism Awardees, have been:
2015 – Racine Art Museum and its affiliate the Charles A. Wustum Museum of Fine Art
RAM and the Wustum are gathering spaces of visual arts education and exhibitions that include one of the largest contemporary craft collections in the United States. The two-campus organization welcomed nearly 60,000 visitors with programming that included exhibitions, studio arts classes and outreach programs to facilitate community-based arts instruction. More than 50,000 children and adults have participated in free outreach art experiences including a mobile expansion that presented 70 children’s art programs throughout Racine County.
2014 – Peninsula Players Theater
As America's Oldest Professional Resident Summer Theater, Peninsula Players has been committed to developing the arts and artists in northeastern Wisconsin and Door County since 1935. The theater became the cornerstone of a burgeoning performing and visual arts scene which continues to grow to this day. Since it first opened, Peninsula Players has presented over 450 plays, enhancing the lives of tens of thousands of audience members. Many talented and distinguished actors have graced the stage, establishing a reputation for an outstanding theater experience. Peninsula Players is a pillar in the local community and helped establish the region’s reputation for having one of the very best and most unique performing arts scenes in the nation.
2013 – Lake Superior Big Top Chautauqua
Lake Superior Big Top Chautauqua is truly unique to Wisconsin and the nation, as it is the only all-canvas, continually operating performing arts venue in the country. The summer concert season brings 30,000 people to the tent for Big Top’s original performances, which are as educational as they are entertaining and remind us why Wisconsin is an amazing place to live and visit. Big Top turns 27 years old this year, and has presented more than 1,600 performances and entertained more than half a million people. As a Wisconsin original and amazing treasure, Big Top has earned its title as "The Carnegie Hall of Tent Shows."
2012 – Northern Sky Theater (Formerly American Folklore Theater)
American Folklore Theatre was awarded the inaugural Governor’s Tourism Award for Arts, Culture and Heritage. This nationally recognized organization has created a body of theatrical work about Wisconsin unparalleled by any other troupe advancing the craft of the American musical. Now in its 22nd year, it is the only major professional regional theatre in the US that solely creates and produces original musicals. The works that it produces educate and entertain people on a wide range of topics – from the adventures of Wisconsin-raised naturalist John Muir to the exploits of Wisconsin ice fishermen. These original musical theatre productions bring in and entertain over 44,000 people each summer under the stars at Peninsula State Park.