The following blog was written by Josh Dukelow, host of Fresh Take on News-Talk 1150 WHBY and chair of Creative Downtown Appleton.
Following the annual Arts Day in Wisconsin on March 9, and building on the incredible creative momentum in the Fox Valley, Creative Downtown Appleton teamed up with Arts Wisconsin and Stone Arch Brew Pub to host a "Creative Conversation" on April 12. Dozens of artists, arts advocates, elected leaders, and community members came together to discuss ways to expand this powerful creative movement.
Appleton Mayor Tim Hanna set the stage with a welcome that highlighted the incredible progress our city has made in a short time, with examples like Chad Brady's murals, Mile of Music, and The Draw. Next, City of Oshkosh Director of Economic Development Darryn Burich explained the recent surge in development along their downtown waterfront and the city's efforts to formalize creative arts conversations in City Hall. Finally, Alison Mayer from River+Bay talked about some of the arts events she has been part of in Green Bay, many under the leadership of Matt Bero of Look Up Art. Sharing perspectives from throughout the Fox Valley highlighted common themes and challenges.
Anne Katz from Arts Wisconsin shared her work, and specifically the "Wisconsin Creates" agenda to leverage more private investment in the arts by offering state matching funds to public-private arts partnerships. Given the need to attract sponsors for this bill, we were delighted to have Representative Amanda Stuck and District Director for Senator Roger Roth, Bill Kloiber in attendance. Wisconsin is far behind our neighboring state s and the rest of the nation in public funding for arts and the creative economy, and we know the arts-lovers in the room need to be part of turning that around.
Representatives of local arts groups shared short updates on their work, including Jean Detjen who was recently hired as VP of Music, Art, and Culture for Launch Wisconsin. Her role will be to make sure that creative entrepreneurs are included in efforts to enhance Wisconsin's startup ecosystem. Her previous work on Take Me To The River pop up exhibits put her in touch with dozens of artists and hundreds of arts supporters, so she is the perfect person for this role.
Even if you couldn't attend the conversation, you can still help! Contact your legislator and ask them to sponsor the Wisconsin Creates bill. Find your legislators here: https://legis.wisconsin.gov/ and learn more about Wisconsin Creates here: wisconsincreates.net
If you want to support the creative things happening in Appleton, become a Placemaker here: https://appletondowntown.org/product/creative-downtown-placemaker/