Mission Statement

Mission Statement

The Wisconsin Arts Board is the state agency which nurtures creativity, cultivates expression, promotes the arts, supports the arts in education, stimulates community and economic development and serves as a resource for people of every culture and heritage. 


The Wisconsin Arts Board vision is inspired by a quote from the late Robert E. Gard, Professor Emeritus of Community Theatre, University of Wisconsin:

"If we are seeking in America, let it be for the reality of democracy in the arts. Let art begin at home and let it spread through the children and the parents, and through the schools and the institutions, and through government. And let us start by acceptance, not negation-acceptance  that the arts are important everywhere, and that they can exist and flourish in small places as well as large, with money or without it, according to the will of the people. Let us put firmly and permanently aside the cliché that the arts are a frill. Let us accept the goodness of art where we are now, and expand its worth in the places where people live."

We embrace this vision: it guides our belief that the arts are basic to human life and essential to the human spirit. 


The Wisconsin Arts Board values:

  • ​imagination
  • creativity
  • curiosity
  • freedom of expression
  • respect and appreciation for all cultures and people
  • artistic quality
  • a broad definition of the arts
  • audience and patron development
  • community engagement

The Wisconsin Arts Board’s programs and activities do not discriminate on the basis of disability in admission, access or employment. 

What Our Legislation Says About Us

41.53 Powers and Duties

1) The board shall:

a) Continually study the artistic and cultural activities within the state.

b) Assist arts activities in the state.

c) Assist communities in creating and developing their own arts programs.

d) Encourage and assist freedom of artistic expression.

e) Promulgate rules, pursuant to ch. 227, for the implementation and operations of this subchapter.

f) Plan and implement, when funds are available in the appropriations under s. 20.380 (3) (b) and (o), a program of contracts with or grants-in-aid to groups or, in appropriate cases, individuals of exceptional talent engaged in or concerned with the arts. No grantee may receive any funds distributed as grants–in–aid under this paragraph unless the grantee provides at least 50% of the estimated total cost of the project, either in the form of moneys or in-kind contributions of equivalent value, to be funded under this paragraph.

fm) Conduct a program identical to that described in par. (f), but only for American Indian individuals and groups. The program shall be funded from the appropriation under s. 20.380 (3) (km).

g) Arrange and schedule the portrait of the governor or any former governor. Costs incurred under this paragraph shall be charged to the appropriation under s. 20.380 (3) (c) up to a limit of $10,000 per portrait. Costs in excess of $10,000 per portrait may be charged to the appropriation under s. 20.380(3) (c) only with the prior approval of the joint committee on finance.

h) Annually, award an amount equal to at least 5% of all state and federal funds received by the board in that year for grants to artists and arts organizations to artists who are minority group members and arts groups composed principally of minority group members. In this paragraph, “minority group member” has the meaning specified in s. 16.287(1) (f).

i) Administer challenge grant programs for the purpose of encouraging the fund-raising efforts of arts organizations.

j) Annually pay to the Milwaukee Foundation, Inc., for deposit in the High Point Fund, the amount appropriated under s. 20.380 (3) (e).


(2) The board may:

a) Enter into contracts with individuals, organizations, units of government and institutions for services furthering the development of the arts and humanities.

am) Enter into contracts with American Indian individuals, organizations and institutions and American Indian tribal governments for services furthering the development of the arts and humanities.

b) Accept all gifts and grants and expend them for the purposes intended.

c) Award an operational grant to an organization if the sum of all operational grants awarded in the current year does not exceed 50% of the sum of all grants awarded to organizations from the appropriations under s. 20.380 (3) (b) and (o) in the current year.  In this paragraph, "operational grant" means a grant awarded by the board to support those adminitrative costs of an organization that are not directly related to the development of an artistic performance or product. 

NOTE: Special sections exist for the Arts Challenge Initiative Grants, fine arts in state buildings (Percent for Art), the Wisconsin Regranting Program, and Arts Incubator grants and loans.​​