Dear Friend of the Arts,

Debra Karp - President
Arts Wisconsin

I wanted to let you know about the current “State of the Arts” in Wisconsin. If you enjoy concerts, performances, exhibits and other arts events in out schools and our community, please take a few minutes to read this letter. There is a serious threat to the arts in Wisconsin and we need your support now more than ever.

The Details:
Governor Walker’s proposed budget cuts funding for the Wisconsin Arts Board by an astounding 73%. The percentage of this cut is far greater than nearly any other agency will receive. Current Arts Board funding is .013% of the overall state budget. The proposed funding levels would drop funding to .005% of the overall budget.

Currently, Wisconsin ranks 38 in the nation for arts funding at 43 cents per capita. If the proposal moves forward, we would fall to number 47, at 14 cents per capita, based on current funding levels. Did you know that our friends in Minnesota rank first in the nation at $5.69 per capita?

The proposal dissolves the Arts Board as an independent agency and moves the remaining funds to the Department of Tourism simply as a program. While the Arts Board enjoys a collaborative relationship with Department of Tourism—the Arts Board supports so much more than tourism in providing education, community development and support for individual artists to create, sell and promote their work.

What is the impact?
Some organizations, events and projects recently supported by the Wisconsin Arts Board which could be impacted by these budget cuts include:

In addition, many other organizations and artists received funding from Racine Arts Council, some which came from the WAB. In past years, local schools have also benefited from WAB funding for artists-in-residence.
Part of the proposed budget cut is due to the complete elimination of the Percent for Art Program. This program not only enhances our public buildings, it provides creative work for our regional artists and venues for them to sell their art.

Open for Business
The arts play an important role in our state and local economy. We have to look no further than Downtown Racine and the Kenosha’s Union Park Project to see how the presence of galleries, theatres and public art enhance the business environment and draw people together to interact and spend money in our local businesses. The arts also draw visitors from elsewhere in the state, Illinois and beyond. And their presence inspires and educates our citizens to engage in innovation and entrepreneurship.

In addition to ticket sales, additional money is generated in the community directly resulting from performances; everything from shops and restaurants, to babysitters and gas. Those expenditures create even more revenue, both locally for business owners, and as state taxes. The arts are good for business.

Moreover, the Creative Industries in Wisconsin (which includes not only non-profit arts agencies and museums but for-profit designers, publishers, architects, radio, video production, etc) consists of over 11,000 businesses that employ over 45,000 people. This sector has seen a 14% growth rate in recent years. The arts are open for business.

Take Action!

What’s the Message?

Restore the Wisconsin Arts Board budget to a more equitable funding level (10% cut instead of 73% cut)
Keep the Arts Board as an independent development agency.

Good: You can send an email message to your legislators using the template provided by Arts Wisconsin in its Legislative Action Center. When you provide your address using this system, the message will automatically be sent to your specific legislators. Please personalize your message as much as possible to illuminate the message with your story. Click here to send an email to your legislators.

Better: Anything beyond an email gets more attention from decision-makers. Copy and paste the email message to send a snail mail letter.

State officials’ snail mail addresses are:
State Senate: Box 7882, Madison, WI 53707-7882
State Assembly A-L: Box 8952, Madison, WI 53708 / M-Z: Box 8953, Madison, WI 53708.

Best: Make an appointment to meet with your state Senator and Representative as soon as possible to discuss this issue and make the case that the arts are part of the solution.
If you are interested in connecting with other Kenosha and Racine citizens who want to make their voices heard on supporting the arts, call Debra Karp at (252) 989-9242 or
To stay up to date on all of the activity regarding the arts in Wisconsin, please click here to sign up for the Arts Wisconsin Action Alerts.

Thank you for your time and support. With your help, we can ensure Wisconsin’s creative edge will continue to move our state Forward.

Debra Karp
Arts Wisconsin


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