Wisconsin’s Creative
Economy Coalition

Driving Growth and Opportunity Across the State

About Us

The Creative Economy refers to unleashing the power of the creative industry and activities that rely on the creativity, skills, and talent of individuals and organizations to fuel Wisconsin’s growth. The industry includes, but is not limited to, film and video, music, performing arts, visual arts, museums, heritage sites, venues, festivals, and other cultural events that contribute to the state’s cultural vibrancy and identity.

When the creative industry thrives, everybody wins. Creative talent fuels growth in the economy, the workforce and community. Wisconsin’s creative sector – people, organizations, businesses, and communities – is a 21st century industry economic engine. Wisconsin’s Creative Economy Coalition is about investing in Wisconsin’s creatives to grow and stabilize the state’s creative economy, workforce, and communities.

We are asking the Wisconsin State Legislature to invest in the state’s Creative Industry through the Wisconsin Artistic Endowment.

Say YES to funding the Wisconsin Artistic Endowment!

Invest In The Arts & Creativity

In 2001, Wisconsin was ahead of the curve in identifying the economic and growth potential the state’s creative sector has on the overall vitality of the state. A bipartisan legislative council study committee recommended legislation that was included in the state budget and signed into law by Gov. Scott McCallum (R) that created the Wisconsin Artistic Endowment Foundation.

However, a funding mechanism was never identified for the foundation. Since that time, Wisconsin has fallen behind our neighboring states and the rest of the country.

Other states are investing proactively in creative economic development, and it’s working for them. When it comes to per capita funding for the arts and culture, Wisconsin ranks 50th nationally, lagging significantly behind our Midwest neighbors.

Iowa, like Wisconsin, sits near the bottom, ranking 47th in the nation. To change their status and set a new trajectory towards creative investment, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) announced a $100m investment to bolster economic development, strengthen the quality of life in their communities, and attract new visitors and residents to the state through a historic investment called “Destination Iowa.” In promoting this creative investment, Gov. Reynolds noted that the funding in this sector builds on the momentum of all the other investments the state is making to grow the economy and their workforce.

Because of fiscal restraint and smart budgeting, Wisconsin now has the opportunity to make a similar generational and historic investment in the creative industry and to fuel economic growth across Wisconsin.

Investment in Wisconsin’s creative sector will help the state compete with its Midwest neighbors, including Iowa, Illinois, and Minnesota, who are investing heavily in creative economic development initiatives to bolster quality of life and attract residents to their states.

Lack of action can result in continued frustrations in rural communities and economies as young adults flock to areas with more cultural amenities. Rural Wisconsin is even further behind in support for arts and culture due to the lack of private philanthropic investment seen in Wisconsin’s larger communities. A thriving creative community will foster downtown revitalization, civic engagement, and tourism destinations.

Wisconsin’s cultural assets are more important than ever as the state and its communities seek to incubate, attract, and retain talent, particularly among young working age adults.

It’s time to level the playing field by supporting Wisconsin creatives and the arts sector to further grow the state.

Why is funding needed?

  • Wisconsin’s arts and cultural assets are more important than ever as neighboring states continue to invest proactively into creative economic development. Wisconsin’s rural communities continue to suffer population declines, harming local economies with fewer workers, jobs, and businesses.
  • The arts drive tourism and inspire youth of all ages to be creative and engaged in their communities. Wisconsin is full of unique, authentic, creative businesses and communities, yet the state lags behind the rest of the nation in arts and cultural investment. The extreme lack of funding for the sector has left Wisconsin and its rural communities with a loss of industry, a decline of young, skilled workers, and a missed opportunity for future generations.
  • Increased investment in the Wisconsin Artistic Endowment will help Wisconsin compete in the Midwest, where neighboring states, like Iowa, Illinois, and Minnesota far exceed our investments into creative economic development initiatives that attract residents to the state and bolster quality of life.

Wisconsin Ranks Last in Arts Funding in the Midwest and the NATION

The Facts

  • Wisconsin spends $0.14 per capita funding the arts and culture, ranking 50th nationally in 2023! The state lags significantly behind neighboring Minnesota, which ranks 3rd nationally at $7.34 per capita, and Illinois, which ranks 7th nationally at $5.04 per capita.
  • The share of Wisconsin’s GDP coming from arts and culture fell from a high of 4% in 2002 to just 2.9% in 2022, a rapid decline compared to the national average of 4.6% in 2002 to 4.4% in 2022.
  • Wisconsin’s creative sector supports nearly 90,000 jobs and provides $10.8b in economic value.
  • Wisconsin’s creative sector growth has not kept pace with the rest of the nation. Since 2020, economic impact in the sector has grown just 8.44%, compared to a national increase of 14.43%. Wisconsin ranks 41st nationally in economic growth.
  • In addition to being an economic contributor, the creative sector provides quality of life, amenities and cultural experiences — all reasons to choose a place to live and work.

Statewide Support

Wisconsin’s Creative Economy Coalition is comprised of leading businesses, individuals, and leaders statewide – including theatres, museums, venues, and visual and performing arts entities – that help bring life to our state and fuel positive activity that lifts local economies. The Coalition and its supporters, who have pledged their commitment to this need and/or received prior support from the Wisconsin Arts Board, are focused on advocating for an important investment that will serve as a catalyst for increased economic activity across the state.


Above the Clouds, Inc., Milwaukee
Acadia Theatre, Hales Corners
American Players Theatre, Spring Green
Arts + Literature Laboratory, Madison
Arts Alliance of Greater Lake Mills, Lake Mills
Arts Council of South Wood County, Wisconsin Rapids
ArtStart, Inc., Rhinelander
ArtWorks for Milwaukee, Milwaukee
Authentic Superior, Herbster
Bacon CPA LLC, Sturgeon Bay
Barron County Economic Development Association, Barron
Bel Canto Chorus, Milwaukee
Bergstrom-Mahler Museum of Glass, Neenah
Birch Creek Music and Performance Center, Egg Harbor
Black Arts MKE, Milwaukee
Bookworm Gardens, Sheboygan
BoomARTS, Appleton
Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Green Bay, Green Bay
C2GPS Creative Talent, Milwaukee
Cable Hayward Area Arts Council, Hayward
Cambridge Arts Council, Cambridge
Capitol Civic Centre, Manitowoc
Cathy Hoke & Co, LLC, Fish Creek
CelticMKE, Wauwatosa
Center for the Visual Arts, Wausau
Central Wisconsin Symphony Orchestra, Stevens Point
Chequamegon Bay Arts Council, Washburn
Children’s Theater of Madison, Madison
Christopher Max Design and Development, Green Bay
City of Green Bay Public Art Committee, Green Bay
Civic Music Association of Milwaukee, Milwaukee
Concord Chamber Orchestra, Milwaukee
CREATE Portage County, Stevens Point
Create Waunakee, Waunakee
Create Wisconsin, Madison
Creative Downtown Appleton, Appleton
Danceworks MKE, Milwaukee
Dane Arts, Madison
David Harrison Expressions, Franklin
Dodge County Center for the Arts, Beaver Dam
Door Community Auditorium, Fish Creek
Driver Opera House Center for the Arts, Darlington
Ex Fabula, Milwaukee
Fine Arts Foundation of the Westby Area, Westby
First Act Children’s Theatre, Madison
First Stage, Milwaukee
Florentine Opera, Milwaukee
Folklore Village, Dodgeville
Fort Atkinson Arts Council, Fort Atkinson
Fort Atkinson Chamber of Commerce, Fort Atkinson
Forte Theatre Company, Franklin
Forward Theater Company, Madison
Fourthstream, Inc. – Cultural Entrepreneurs, Viroqua
Fox Cities Performing Arts Center, Appleton
Frederic Arts, Frederic
Geneva Lake Arts Foundation, Lake Geneva
Grand Opera House, Oshkosh
Green Lake Festival of Music, Green Lake
Heid Music, Appleton
Imagine MKE, Milwaukee
Innovation Center Stoughton, Stoughton
Janesville Performing Arts Center, Janesville
John Michael Kohler Arts Center, Sheboygan
Katherine Kramer Projects, Verona
Kennedy Dance Company, Milwaukee
Kenosha Community Foundation, Kenosha
Kids from Wisconsin, Milwaukee
Lake Superior Big Top Chautauqua, Bayfield
Land O’ Lakes Arts, Land o’Lakes
LaPointe Center for the Arts, LaPointe
Lauren Zens Art, Milwaukee
League of Wisconsin Municipalities, Madison
Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum, Wausau
Lemon Street Gallery, Kenosha
Let’s Minocqua Visitors Bureau + Chamber of Commerce, Minocqua
LuCille Tack Center for the Arts, Spencer
Madison Arts Commission, Madison
Madison Community Foundation, Madison
Madison Gas and Electric, Madison
Madison Opera, Madison
Madison Regional Economic Partnership (MadREP), Madison
Madison Symphony Orchestra, Madison
Madison Youth Choirs, Madison
Make Music Madison, Madison
Marcus Performing Arts Center, Milwaukee

Max Ink Music Radio, Madison
Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce (MMAC), Milwaukee
Midsummers Music, Sister Bay
Mile of Music, Appleton
Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee
Milwaukee Area Technical College (MATC), Milwaukee
Milwaukee Artist Resource Network, Milwaukee
Milwaukee Chamber Theatre, Milwaukee
Milwaukee Downtown, Milwaukee
Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design, Milwaukee
Milwaukee Repertory Theater, Milwaukee
Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, Milwaukee
Milwaukee Youth Arts Center, Milwaukee
Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra, Milwaukee
Mosaic Arts, Inc, Green Bay
Next Act Theatre, Milwaukee
Northern Arts Council, Rhinelander
Northern Sky Theater, Fish Creek
Nova Linea Dance Company, Waukesha
NWTC Artisan Center, Green Bay
Optimist Theatre, Milwaukee
Organic Arts, Milwaukee
Overture Center for the Arts, Madison
Pablo Center at the Confluence, Eau Claire
Peninsula Players Theatre, Fish Creek
Pewaukee Arts Council, Pewaukee
Point Dance Ensemble, Stevens Point
Portage Center for the Arts, Portage
Present Music, Milwaukee
Prosperity Southwest, Darlington
Public Arts Initiative of Egg Harbor, Egg Harbor
Pump House Regional Arts Center, La Crosse
Racine Art Museum, Racine
Racine Arts Council, Racine
Racine Symphony Orchestra, Racine
Racine Theatre Guild, Racine
Renaissance Theatreworks, Milwaukee
Richland Area Arts Council, Richland Center
River Falls Community Arts Base, River Falls
River Valley Arts, Spring Green
Rountree Gallery, Platteville
Sara Daleidan Consulting, Milwaukee
Sara Risley Fine Art, Milwaukee
Shake Rag Alley Center for the Arts, Mineral Point
Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Arts, Brookfield
Shell Lake Arts Center, Shell Lake
South Milwaukee Performing Arts Center, South Milwaukee
Stan’s Fit For Your Feet, Brookfield
Stefanie H. Weill Center for the Performing Arts, Sheboygan
Sterling Silver Studio, Superior
Stevens Point Convention and Visitors Bureau, Stevens Point
Stone House Development, Madison
Sun Prairie Civic Theatre, Sun Prairie
Superior Council for the Arts, Superior
Superior Craft School, Superior
SW Regional Planning Commission, Platteville
Ten Chimneys, Waukesha
The Constructivists, Milwaukee
The Hardy Gallery, Ephraim
The Heist, Ripon
The NEW North, Green Bay
Thrasher Opera House, Green Lake
TNW Ensemble Theater, Madison
Trout Museum of Art, Appleton
United Performing Arts Fund, Milwaukee
UW Arts Committee, Sauk County, Baraboo
UW-Madison Division of the Arts, Madison
Verona Area Performing Arts Series, Verona
Viroqua Chamber Main Street, Viroqua
Vision Northwest, Spooner
Visit Eau Claire, Eau Claire
Viterbo University Fine Arts, La Crosse
Walworth County Arts Council, Delavan
Wausau Area Performing Arts Foundation, Wausau
Weidner Center for the Performing Arts, Green Bay
We Think Big LLC, Madison
Whitewater Arts Alliance, Whitewater
Wisconsin Conservatory of Music, Milwaukee
Wisconsin Counties Association
Wisconsin Craft
Wisconsin Presenters Network
Wisconsin School Music Association, Waunakee
Wisconsin Writers Association
Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras, Madison
Wormfarm Institute, Reedsburg


Dean Amhaus, Grafton
Jeff and Angela Bartell, Madison
Margaret Bau, Stevens Point
Marta Bechtol, Middleton
Mary Bergs, Benton
Bruce and Janet Bernberg, Racine
Risa Bernstein, Cedar Grove
Mary Berryman Agard, Madison
Linda Blohowiak, Pulaski
Shirley Brabender Mattox, Oshkosh
Helen Bradbury, Madison
Elizabeth Breed, Madison
Andrea Bryant, Waukesha
Nina Cheney, Mt. Horeb
Melinda Childs, Tomahawk
Sara Church, River Falls
Chris Clemens, Viroqua
Jacqui Corsi, Arena
Lori Cuene, DePere
Sara Daleiden, Milwaukee
Nancy Daly, Madison
Beth Dary, Kenosha
Jayme Dawicki, New Berlin
Tom DeChant, Madison
C. Ann and Dean Dietrich, Wausau
Diana Drier, Madison
Michael Duncan, Oconomowoc
Sarah Dunning, Madison
Jared Duymovic, Madison
Heidi Dyas-McBeth, Platteville
Sally Everhardus, Fish Creek
Renee Farley, Madison
Mary Fiore, Madison
Michelle Fitzgerald, Cudahy
Barb and David Flesch, Madison
Robin and Robert Fossum, Chetek
Nicole Foster, Ashland
Chuck and Cynthia France, Madison
Bridget Fraser, Rockton
Claudia Freeman, Waukegan
Scott Gelzer, De Soto
Nick George, Madison

Michael George, Madison
Emily Goretski, Madison
Sam Handley, Green Lake
Anette Hansen, Madison
Katie Heil, Milwaukee
Ronnie Hess, Madison
Walter and Cheryl Hobbs, Tomahawk
Jim and Kathy Holperin, Eagle River
John Horn, Madison
Melanie and Steve Hovey, Kenosha
Ann Huntoon, Tomahawk
Monique Isham, Madison
Deborah Janz, Spencer
Beth Kaplan, Madison
Joan Karlen, Stevens Point
Sarah Katzman, Madison
Helen Klebesadel, Madison
Craig Knitt, Marion
Mel Kolstad, Fond du Lac
Alan Kopischke, Fish Creek
Chris Kopmeier, Dodgeville
Lisa Kornetsky, Milwaukee
Sally Kraus, Madison
Alexia Kulweic and Tom Starck, Madison
Judith Landsman, Madison
Patricia Lenz, Maple
Jan Levine Thal, Madison
Efrat Livny, Madison
Alexis London, Madison
Sam Luna, Ripon
Patti Mackesey, Stoughton
Megan Matthews, Whitewater
Kathleen McElroy, Madison
Susan Mead, Wisconsin Rapids
Joanne Meierhofer, Ashland
Jon Meyer, Appleton
Mal Montoya, Milwaukee
Marianne Morton, Madison
Christopher Naumann, Green Bay
Carolyn Nelson-Kavajecz, Superior
Christian Neuhaus, Madison
Judy Newman, Madison

Ann O’Brien, Madison
Jim O’Connell, Wausau
Jennifer Ondrejka, Madison
Robert Osborne, Racine
Tom Pease, Amherst
Nick Pjevach, Madison
Anne Pryor, Madison
Harriet Rice, Webster
Fran and Steve Richman, Mequon
Lynn Ritchie, Land O’Lakes
Ellen Rosewall, DePere
Ars Nova Sarah Schaffer, Middleton
Bill Scanlon, Madison
Robert Schlack, Cornucopia
Gail Simpson, Stoughton
Tim and Pat Size, Madison
Meg Skinner, Madison
Dana Sonnenberg, Stevens Point
Leslie Stewart, Pepin
Sharon Stewart, Washburn
Christine Style, Green Bay
Gail Sumi, Madison
Vanitha Suresh, Middleton
Randal Swiggum, Madison
Tom Targos, Bristol
Chuck Taylor, Madison
Jason Terry, Ashland
Gay Thomas, Madison
Betsy Thompson, Madison
Harv Thompson, McFarland
Sheila Thomson, Madison
Jenny Toutant, Milwaukee
Paula Tran, Monona
Jane Vea, Madison
Zach Vruwink, Rhinelander
Darrin Wasniewski, Madison
Mark Weller, Waunakee
Barry Wightman, Elm Grove
Jonathan Winkle, Milwaukee
Meg Wise, Madison
Peggy Zalucha, Mt. Horeb