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Wisconsin's Democratic gubernatorial candidates on the arts

Wisconsin's Democratic gubernatorial candidates on the arts

We surveyed eight contenders about their positions on arts-related policy and funding. (Photo by Barry Dale Gilfry on Flickr/Creative Commons)

As eight Democrats head into Wisconsin's August 14 gubernatorial primary, the challenge for each remains to articulate a path away from the policies of Scott Walker. Education, Foxconn, infrastructure, and healthcare will be the defining issues in this primary and the race against Walker, and with so much at stake, it's understandable that there hasn't been a whole lot of conversation about the arts. But it's worth asking about: Walker and the Republican-dominated legislature have cut funding for the Wisconsin Arts Board, and in 2011 cut most of its staff and converted it from a state agency to a division within the state's Department of Tourism. Among the states, Wisconsin ranked 48 in spending on state arts agencies per capita, according to a February 2018 report from the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies.

Donald Trump, who won the 2016 presidential election with Wisconsin's help and has allied himself with Walker on the massively subsidized Foxconn project in Racine County, has repeatedly proposed eliminating federal arts agencies like the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, which have provided tens of millions of dollars to arts programs in Wisconsin. Funding cuts for public school districts and the UW System have placed further pressure on the humanities and arts education.

If one of the eight people still in the Democratic primary became governor, what would change in Wisconsin's approach to arts funding and arts-related policies? And how much have the candidates actually thought about this?

In an attempt to find out, Tone Madison conducted an arts-policy survey, similar to the one we conducted in Madison's 2015 mayoral race. Each campaign received the same seven questions, and we have provided their responses below. The responses have not been edited for typos or content. This being a survey, we didn't have the chance to ask follow-up questions or press for more specifics. We'll be discussing the responses a bit more on the next edition of the Tone Madison podcast, so be sure to subscribe.

All eight candidates have announced that they plan to participate in an August 8 debate at the Central Library, hosted by WORT, Isthmus, and The Progressive. Don't forget to register to vote.

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Tony Evers, State Superintendent of Public Instruction

What role do you believe the arts should play in Wisconsin communities?

In a lot of ways, communities are defined by their cultural offerings. The arts not only make life more beautiful and enjoyable on a basic level, but they strengthen communities and local economies, bring people together across divides, and appeal to visitors outside the state. Arts-related careers currently account for 3% of the state's economy, but that number is significantly below the national average. As states like Minnesota have figured out, a growing arts economy can easily help offset a shrinking manufacturing sector, and so investing more in the arts makes for a more beautiful, more connected, and ultimately, a more fiscally stable economy.

What have you done, either in public office or in other roles, to support the arts?

As the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, I have worked to ensure that every student in Wisconsin has access to a high quality, comprehensive arts education and I'm proud of our emphasis on the arts. In the past year, we have worked with artists and educators across Wisconsin to update our Pre-K - 12 Standards for dance and theater, music and fine arts for the first time in over 25 years. Doing so continues to focus our education community on the strong role of the arts in our public schools. These standards promote broad, in-depth learner experiences for Wisconsin students, and I've enjoyed touring the state to meet with educators and students from St. Croix Falls where two amazing young potters helped me throw my first pot, to Beloit, where I was blown away by a show choir where students with disabilities had the lead roles and parts. Using the bully pulpit to celebrate arts and creativity is something I'd look forward to continuing as Governor.

How would you ensure that arts programs serve the state's increasingly diverse population and marginalized communities within it?

Advancing racial equity and increasing opportunities for children, families and communities of color across the state is imperative to Wisconsin's healthy and sustainable future, and the arts are absolutely part of my vision for strengthening all our communities, including our diverse Communities.

Let me be clear—facing the challenge of being the state with the worst ranking for black child well-being in the nation is one I'm willing to take head on, unlike Gov. Walker who continues to ignore these realities as well as continue to pass punitive policies that hurt not help Wisconsin families rebuild and grow.

As State Superintendent, I've led my agency with the vision to make every child a graduate and address the racial disparities and inequities in our schools, but Wisconsin needs all its leaders committed to this work. Broadly, across all sectors, we need to make investments in local neighborhoods and ensure government decision-makers, corporate leaders, and educators reflect the growing diversity of our state. Finally, we must reject the hateful rhetoric and division that's consuming our country. I'll use all resources at my disposal to ensure equality, opportunity, justice and fairness to all Wisconsinites.

Specific to the arts, I would prioritize arts funding for low income and communities of color. In its Strategic Plan for 2019-2021, the Wisconsin Arts Board places emphasis on working "to serve under-served communities." If the Wisconsin Arts Board were adequately funded, this goal could lead to meaningful results. When art funding is cut, it strongly impacts the arts in the low-income and marginalized communities that don't have networks of corporate and individual sponsors to supplant missing revenue. Well-funded, robust arts education programs have also been shown to be an essential tool in closing the achievement gap between high and low income students. I want to promote the arts to celebrate and reflect the richness of Wisconsin communities.

You're putting together your first budget as governor. What allocations do you make for the Wisconsin Arts Board and other, existing arts-related programs?

At the minimum, I would immediately propose restoring funding to pre-2011 levels, and then work to increase it from there. Scott Walker cut the WAB arts budget by 67% in his 2011 budget and we are now 47th in the nation in arts funding. I think that is shameful for a state with as much cultural riches as Wisconsin. Identifying additional targeted funding opportunities for programs like Very Special Arts, Dane County's ArtWorking, and arts related funding targeted to community organizations is something I'm committed to. Additionally, through my role as a UW Board of Regents member through the Walker years, I've watched as the liberal arts have been absolutely cast aside and dismissed and I'm saddened by this short-sightedness. Because the arts touch on so many aspects of our economy, we need to restore both funding and appreciation for the liberal arts as a key economic driver for Wisconsin. Fortune 500 companies like Epic Systems know the value of a liberal arts education. Too bad the Republicans in control haven't figured it out.

What new arts-related policies or programs would you propose as governor, if any?

As stated, I would start by increasing funding for the WAB and restoring it as an independent body outside of the Department of Tourism which will restore its prominence within my administration. Next, we need to look to a state like Minnesota as an example; Minnesota is number one in arts funding. The citizens of Minnesota have recognized the value of a booming arts economy, and in 2008 they voted to to use a portion of sales tax revenue to fund their state arts board. The state spends $6.36 per capita on the arts. They realize that rich cultural offerings draw people and industries to the state, and generally improve the quality of life. In contrast, when faced with a tax surplus, we got an election year gimmick in the form of a child tax rebate nobody asked for. Sadly, Wisconsin under the Walker administration values arts to the tune of 13 cents per capita. This must change. I am open to working with stakeholders, community organizations and art advocates to promoting new, exciting arts programs that benefit Wisconsin's kids, families and local economies.

How would you empower local governments to support the arts in their communities?

I believe art should be integrated into the daily life of a community. I want to hear from a range of community members about what matters to them. Arts funding should go beyond supporting art experiences that seem cordoned off from the community; I think it's problematic when support for the arts starts to look like a "high society" affair. Support for folk arts, neighborhood festivals, youth arts offering and enhanced local art education would be great ways for local governments to strengthen community culture. We must return to working with our local partners and move away from the top-down management of government that we've seen with Governor Walker.

The Trump administration has repeatedly proposed eliminating the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, which together have provided more than $30 million in grants to organizations in Wisconsin since 2010. How would you respond if such proposals were floated again, and what about if they were passed into law?

It's ironic that Donald Trump wants to cut funding for the NEA, because visual arts are clearly important to him. During his presidential campaign, it was reported that he illegally spent $20,000 of charity money to purchase a 6 foot tall painting of himself.

I would be adamantly opposed to the elimination of the NEA and NEH. Both agencies account for a tiny portion of the federal budget (.004 % each) and are miniscule compared to what other industrialized nations spend on the arts. The elimination of the NEA and NEH would disproportionately affect rural and underserved communities, as 65% of the NEA's direct grants go towards the smaller arts organizations. Since Wisconsin does receive arts funding from the NEA, we would need to fill that gap on our own, and with arts as such a critical piece of my vision for creating and restoring communities, I believe we need as much funding through both state and federal channels as we can get.

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Matt Flynn, attorney

What role do you believe the arts should play in Wisconsin communities?

I believe there is an important place for arts in our schools and civic life. Art fosters creativity
and interconnectedness that are essential for our economy and our democracy.

What have you done, either in public office or in other roles, to support the arts?

I served as the President of the Board of the Skylight Opera Theater, and President of the Board of Milwaukee Shakespeare. I also served on the Board of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra. At the Skylight, my wife and I appeared as supernumeraries in five operas and five musicals, in more than 100 shows over ten years. I've also published two novels, both political satires.

How would you ensure that arts programs serve the state's increasingly diverse population and marginalized communities within it?

We need to support arts education in our public schools so children of all backgrounds—including in urban and rural school districts—have the same access to artistic opportunity as those from more privileged families. Additionally, public servants should be mindful to be inclusive of all the communities they represent when investing in public art—both in terms of where the art is displayed/performed and in terms of the artists themselves.

You're putting together your first budget as governor. What allocations do you make for the Wisconsin Arts Board and other, existing arts-related programs?

I would substantially increase the arts budget in my first budget.

What new arts-related policies or programs would you propose as governor, if any?

I propose a renewed commitment to art education and funding for our schools. Art is a great way for children to express themselves and grow. By providing the supplies and direction they need, we can change lives. When I was on the board of the Skylight Theater, we worked pro bono with a Milwaukee public school to teach them about opera music. I would set up a cabinet-level position to work with nonprofits around the state, including arts organizations, to foster increased private donations to nonprofits.

How would you empower local governments to support the arts in their communities?

As governor I will restore local control to communities. For too long they have been forced to comply with top-down budget decisions from the state government.

The Trump administration has repeatedly proposed eliminating the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, which together have provided more than $30 million in grants to organizations in Wisconsin since 2010. How would you respond if such proposals were floated again, and what about if they were passed into law?

We need a strong governor who is willing to stand up to Donald Trump. I will fight for all federal funding—including Medicaid and infrastructure—that Scott Walker turned down. In addition, I will fight for increased funding for the NEA and NEH.

Mike McCabe, activist

No response.

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Mahlon Mitchell, firefighter, President of the Professional Fire Fighters of Wisconsin

What role do you believe the arts should play in Wisconsin communities?

We have an obligation to deliver more funding for the arts to our public schools and promote opportunities every community. It plays a vital role in our culture, history, and challenges young people to apply themselves in new ways. I will be a governor who is an advocate for funding the arts in all aspects of our communities.

What have you done, either in public office or in other roles, to support the arts?

As the father of two children, one of whom is currently in college, I have always encouraged them to explore opportunities in the arts. Growing up, I played the cello and was also a disc jockey. As a firm advocate for public school funding I believe that the arts is essential for the education of our youth. Even in the UW system, we must ensure that arts sciences and humanities remain an integral part of curriculum. As we seek to education the next generation of Wisconsinites I will always make sure that a well-rounded and globally competitive education includes the arts.

How would you ensure that arts programs serve the state's increasingly diverse population and marginalized communities within it?

We can't throw money at something and expect it to stick. That's why I will treat the funding of the arts as something that's a top-level priority. We need to see deliverable metrics showing that the investments we make are going to the right communities. Wisconsin is becoming increasingly diverse, especially within the city of Milwaukee. We need to promote various opportunities across the board in order to not only appeal to diverse and marginalized communities, but also have them willingly participate in whatever they feel is their newly-found passion.

You're putting together your first budget as governor. What allocations do you make for the Wisconsin Arts Board and other, existing arts-related programs?

I will work with everybody in order to ensure there is more funding available for grants to spread arts and culture across Wisconsin, especially the Creative Communities Grant. I will always be an ally, and will never look at the arts as something that should be cut; it should always have new investments. Arts and culture is a good part of our state's economy and should be treated as an economic generator. As governor, I will always protect and invest in the arts in my state budgets.

What new arts-related policies or programs would you propose as governor, if any?

I believe that the arts should be a required part of an educational curriculum, starting early in elementary school. We need to be sure that students are exposed to arts and culture at a young age in order to foster their interests and open up new possibilities. We will also see a new push to increase local access to arts programs across Wisconsin in both public schools and community organizations. Aside from increasing the amount of grants the state shall provide for the spread of arts and culture, we're also going to see the arts having a very visible and prominent role in Wisconsin's society.

How would you empower local governments to support the arts in their communities?

One thing I speak about on the campaign trail is local control. For too long we've seen Madison chip away at the rights of local governments to do what they feel is best for their communities. I plan on restoring that authority. We elect local leaders for a reason: to make decisions on what's best. If a local government has a new idea to support the arts in their community, they will have an ally in Madison who will work to obtain the necessary funding for long-term arts programs.

The Trump administration has repeatedly proposed eliminating the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, which together have provided more than $30 million in grants to organizations in Wisconsin since 2010. How would you respond if such proposals were floated again, and what about if they were passed into law?

I will be a strong voice against such cuts, and I will do everything in my power as governor to protect what funding currently exists. If these types of cuts are made by Washington, then it will be my job as governor to make up the difference in our state budget to ensure that grants to organizations in Wisconsin do not dry up.

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Josh Pade, attorney and activist

What role do you believe the arts should play in Wisconsin communities?

The arts are a vital pillar of a thriving community and should not just be supported, but encouraged. Art, writing, theater, and music must be a part of the complete education of our children. Studies have found that students who have art or music classes as a part of their curriculum far outpace in mathematics and comprehension than their peers without these studies. It also helps teach tolerance, cultural awareness, and non-native speakers can learn a language more quickly because of the arts.

Art is critical to our students, and it's critical for creating our communities, as a common experience that ties us together. Art is a vital part of the economy. It can stimulate tourism, encourage development of main street corridors, and is an incentive for attracting people and companies.

And let's not forget that the arts create high wage job growth. The "STEAM" (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math) industries are more likely to grow and flourish in communities where arts also thrive. An investment in the arts is an investment in our students, our economy, our jobs, and in our future.

What have you done, either in public office or in other roles, to support the arts?

The arts have had an important role in every part of my life. I've been a participant in the Wisconsin Music Teachers Associates annual events as a classically trained pianist. I've also urged for funding of art programs, and while in college at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, was a fierce advocate for funding or the university arts, music, and theater programs. Serving as Finance Committee Liaison to those departments, my role was to ensure that they didn't just have adequate funding but that money was continuing to be invested to encourage participation and growth of those programs.

While in DC on Capitol Hill, I constantly encouraged saving and increased investment in the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and in funding for school music, arts programs.

And the arts are a huge part of my personal life. As I mentioned I'm a pianist, and my wife a writer, my mother was a musician, my mother-in-law an artist, my father-in-law was a chef; my family is always searching for new art and cultural experiences that help us continue to learn and grow in every aspect of our lives.

How would you ensure that arts programs serve the state's increasingly diverse population and marginalized communities within it?

As Governor, I will showcase the incredible works of art, music, and theater that come from all of our communities included those historically marginalized.

In Baraboo I met Homer Daehn, a woodworker who was commissioned to create a WWI statue that will be revealed this Veteran's Day. I will celebrate his art.

In North Milwaukee, Fatima Laster is converting an old funeral home in to a gallery with plans to open by the end of this year. I will celebrate her impact.

In Racine, rock and jazz pianist Ben Sidran has made major contributions to jazz, popular music and to his memoir There Was A Fire: Jews, Music And The American Dream which was a finalist for the 2012 Jewish Book Award. I will celebrate his music.

We must encourage art in every community in Wisconsin. I will also ensure that every school district has a vital arts program, which would also help to close in our massive achievement gap in schools. As Governor, I will ensure that funding for arts programs throughout the state, giving more opportunities to woodworkers, artists and musicians like Homer, Fatima and Ben.

You're putting together your first budget as governor. What allocations do you make for the Wisconsin Arts Board and other, existing arts-related programs?

As Governor, I will restore funding to the arts board. I will ensure that within our education system that every district has adequate funding for arts programs. I will also bring back the "percent for arts program" that requires meaningful and impactful contributions to arts development within our communities.

What new arts-related policies or programs would you propose as governor, if any?

I will make art investment a part of economic development. My administration will look into incentives to encourage private investment in arts programs and ensure that non-profits have a seamless path toward integrating those programs. Our economic development investments will also include incentives for venues that encourage growth of the arts whether it is theater, music, or art. I will create new canvases and opportunities within our state buildings, Capitol or Governor's home, both wonderful platforms to host the incredible work of Wisconsin artists. I will also dedicate a program to showcase Wisconsin's tremendous wealth of arts to increase tourism, and encourage artists to live and work here.

How would you empower local governments to support the arts in their communities?

What I love about the arts is exactly what I love about each of our communities in Wisconsin. Differences and uniqueness are what create beauty. We've seen far too much autonomy taken away from our local cities, stifling their creativity of what they can truly become. As Governor, I will urge the restoration of our individual community heritage and ensure State Government is a supportive partner for cities to innovate the way they the development of arts and their programs.

The Trump administration has repeatedly proposed eliminating the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, which together have provided more than $30 million in grants to organizations in Wisconsin since 2010. How would you respond if such proposals were floated again and what about if they were passed into law?

As I mentioned, while on Capitol Hill, I worked extensively to support the continued development and growth of NEA. My commitment to the organization and their programs is unwavering. I will fight every day against the crushing impact eliminating the NEA would have within Wisconsin and our country. As added protections, on day one as Governor my administration will partner with private developers and investors who have a long term stake in a vibrant arts industry in Wisconsin.

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Kelda Roys, former 81st Assembly District Representative, entrepreneur, attorney

What role do you believe the arts should play in Wisconsin communities?

A thriving community is one that has many artistic and cultural assets that play an integral role in the life of that community. The arts are important to our economy, for tourism, and to our quality of life, but they are also important for our humanity. The arts can be a way to build community, bring people together, challenge us, reflect our values, call for urgent change, and make our selves and our communities better, more welcoming, more vibrant.

What have you done, either in public office or in other roles, to support the arts?

I'm a strong supporter of the arts, which have always played an important and central role in my life. I am a musician and theater artist; I play piano, sing, and used to play violin, saxophone, and drums at various times. I attended NYU's Tisch School of the Arts, where I studied theater at Playwrights Horizons—directing plays, composing musical theater works, and acting. As an adult, I've served as a church musician, playing piano and singing, and occasionally even performing in other venues. My husband and I support and enjoy participating in many artistic endeavors; we're generally season ticket-holders to American Players Theater and Forward Theater, we see a variety of live music, and we take family trips to Wisconsin's many museums and art shows. I served on the board of Forward's predecessor company, Madison Repertory Theater, and we will continue to support and participate in the arts community in Wisconsin.

How would you ensure that arts programs serve the state's increasingly diverse population and marginalized communities within it?

Arts organizations and funders must prioritize equity, diversity, and inclusion in making geographic, programming, marketing, and content/artist decisions. It's not enough to offer great art made by diverse creators—we must make sure it is accessible to people in a meaningful way (hours, transportation, cost) and that all people are welcomed and feel welcomed to participate in experiencing it. Making sure that art, especially public art, isn't just a "downtown" or "high-brow" experience, not just for Madison and Milwaukee, needs to be a priority to ensure that all people and communities can enjoy and benefit from our artistic assets.

You're putting together your first budget as governor. What allocations do you make for the Wisconsin Arts Board and other, existing arts-related programs?

I consider WAB and existing arts programs a high priority and will consult with the Board and other stakeholders in making decisions about budget allocations. I am well aware that for every dollar invested by the public in the arts, we get many more dollars returned in economic benefit, in addition to the quality-of-life and cultural benefits of the arts.

What new arts-related policies or programs would you propose as governor, if any?

I will seek out new voices and especially those who are traditionally underrepresented in formal arts leadership roles—young people, low-income people, people of color, people with disabilities, etc.—to identify opportunities for enhancing our artistic sector and our communities.

How would you empower local governments to support the arts in their communities?

I support local control and would not interfere in the decisions of local governments regarding the arts, though I do think shared revenue and state funding is important for local units of government, so they have resources to commit to the arts. I also would fully fund our UW system, because the connection between education and the arts, creativity and discovery, is clear—I value artistic creation and intellectual discovery, and both should be free from political interference or censorship. Especially in this treacherous time where artists, journalists, academics, and citizens who speak their mind are targeted, attacked, harassed, and denigrated by leaders at the highest levels of our government, we must have a governor who stands up for academic freedom, a free and independent press, artistic freedom, and freedom of speech for all people.

The Trump administration has repeatedly proposed eliminating the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, which together have provided more than $30 million in grants to organizations in Wisconsin since 2010. How would you respond if such proposals were floated again, and what about if they were passed into law?

I would strongly oppose them and join with other states and advocates to preserve these critical arts grants.

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Paul Soglin, Mayor of Madison

What role do you believe the arts should play in Wisconsin communities?

Great states have great access to the arts, both the opportunity to experience diverse programming and to create. The opportunity to create is especially important for young people as well as adults who may not become professionals but wish to create as they grow older and seek new experiences. The arts ignite civic dialogue, catalyze the development of beautiful public spaces, serve as a magnet for economic development, and enhance children’s educational attainment. They challenge our assumptions, reinforce our traditions, and broaden our grasp of the possible. They bring wonder.

Wisconsin is at a time crossroads with regard to the arts. We can turn from ignorance and callous disregard to imagination and dreams. Throughout the state we must grow our commitment to the arts, through film, music, and book festivals.

Let me spend some time discussing Madison specifically in terms of this question. Madison is also at a time of trial with regard to the arts. Local arts need more rehearsal, performing, and technical space despite Overture Center and the smaller existing venues popularity. The economic climate will make continued progress a challenge.

That same climate threatens arts organization’s ability to earn income through admissions and memberships. The Bartell Community Theatre always needs support and it is unclear how much longer it will serve the needs of community-based performing arts groups. Local visual artists face a shortage of opportunities for exhibition, and artists in other disciplines also face market limitations on the sale of their work. The University, under barbaric pressure from the state, continues its pattern of disproportionate and systematic cuts in arts funding, threatening an invaluable set of resources on which the whole community has historically relied. Critical dialogue in the arts is minimal; media treatment of arts offerings is constrained.

And, despite Madison’s rich array of arts resources, access to the arts, in terms of both audiences and participants, is inequitable. In particular, many of Madison’s youngest and poorest residents are too often excluded and arts organizations located outside the downtown area are too often forgotten. These young people often use different and unfamiliar mediums to the consternation of their parents and teachers, but they deserve the opportunity to explore.

As Madison’s arts resources grow in complexity, the City must invest in its capacity for arts stewardship. In particular, the City must work to:

-Create a vehicle for public/private partnership in arts funding, coordination, and advocacy by exploring options and creating an on-going solution that fits our community’s structure and style.

-Support the systematic growth and development of our public arts programs.

-Demonstrate the City’s regard for the critical importance of new works by local artists.

-Spread the arts to all the City’s neighborhoods by funding outdoor special events like Dane Dances. .

-Steward the arts by creating a municipal capacity to monitor the health of local arts resources and the needs of local artists, and to plan and implement appropriate strategies to advance their well-being.

What have you done, either in public office or in other roles, to support the arts?

I created the Madison Civic Center which evolved into the Overture Center. The original Madison Civic Center was designed with two missions: to bring professional performances to Madison audiences and to nurture local talent by providing a home for our local theater companies.

I developed Madison’s Art Grants program which made grants to artists in all fields with one requirement: the artist’s work had to be available for no charge to the public.

I appointed Madison’s first Poet Laureate, developed the Urban Design Commission, and instituted the Mayor’s purchase program.

In 2010, as a citizen, I served on the commission tasked with finding a solution to the struggling Overture Center for the Arts. My minority report was eventually adopted by the Madison City Council resulting in the present structure.

There is more. But, in all the instances as in the cases above, the focus of my work was to make the arts accessible to everyone both as audience and as creator.

How would you ensure that arts programs serve the state's increasingly diverse population and marginalized communities within it?

By requiring diversity in board membership and in the public being served as a requirement to obtain state grants; by educating arts groups as to the benefits and wisdoms of diversity in scheduling, classes, and venues; by supporting new cooperatives and commercial galleries that address these needs; by encouraging arts fairs to welcome new and different exhibitors which in turn will encourage new audiences; and by supporting children’s museums to develop more creative programming.

You're putting together your first budget as governor. What allocations do you make for the Wisconsin Arts Board and other, existing arts-related programs?

I cannot give you a dollar amount at this time since I need to examine existing resources and needs. I can tell you based on what I accomplished in the past, my areas of focus will be to:

-Create a vehicle for public/private partnership in arts funding, coordination, and advocacy by exploring options and creating an on-going solution that fits our state’s structure and style.

-Support the systematic growth and development of our public arts programs.

-Demonstrate the state’s recognition of the critical importance of new works by Wisconsin artists.

-Spread the arts to all Wisconsin communities by funding outdoor special events with an emphasis on local architecture, commerce, and environment.

-Steward the arts by creating a state program to monitor the health of local arts resources and the needs of local artists, and to plan and implement appropriate strategies to advance their well-being.

-Develop a program that encourage Wisconsin artists who gain national stature to return to the state to invigorate and inspire youth.

It is with these areas in mind, the I will prepare my first Art’s budget.

What new arts-related policies or programs would you propose as governor, if any?

See the answer to number four above. In addition, I would charge the Wisconsin Arts Boards with stewarding the arts by creating a state capacity to monitor the health of local arts resources and the needs of local artists, and to plan and implement appropriate strategies to advance their well-being. Just as state officials meet to review human service needs on an annual basis, a comparable program must be developed for all artistic disciplines. This program must evaluate the citizen’s preferences for, and access to, various arts activities; the adequacy of opportunities through which citizens can participate in the arts; the availability, affordability, and sufficiency of children’s arts events and activities; the vigor of the arts marketplace; the availability of venues for art learning, making, exhibition, and performance; the health and growth of arts organizations; and the sufficiency of resources for the professional development and support of individual artists. In addition, this process should identify and rectify state behavior or policy that may be inadvertently confounding arts development.

How would you empower local governments to support the arts in their communities?

By providing state matches to local governments and for those communities lacking in local resources, 100% funding.

The Trump administration has repeatedly proposed eliminating the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, which together have provided more than $30 million in grants to organizations in Wisconsin since 2010. How would you respond if such proposals were floated again, and what about if they were passed into law?

Prior to the advent of the Trump Administration I joined hundreds of other mayors in supporting increased funding for the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Since Trump became president, we have reaffirmed our support for these two vital agencies and I continue to oppose their elimination or any funding cuts.

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Kathleen Vinehout, 31st District State Senator, farmer

What role do you believe the arts should play in Wisconsin communities?

Art creates community. Art demands attention. Art provides inspiration. Art soothes our soul. Art un-grounds our conventions. Art uplifts us. Art sobers us with someone else's realty. Art provides cause for dialogue. Art provides a mirror to examine our own assumptions. Art unites our world. Art helps build a great place to live, work, play and raise a family.

To quote one of our local art gallery owners:

"Art has the power to fill spaces in our souls nothing else can."

(read the full quotes and more here: https://www.kathleenvinehout.org/why_art)

In short, Investment in the Arts is an Investment in Putting People First.

You can read a bit more about my ideas here:

https://www.kathleenvinehout.org/art_mirrors_our_environment

What have you done, either in public office or in other roles, to support the arts?

I am a longtime advocate for the arts. I've advanced the work of many in our communities in western Wisconsin to strengthen the arts by assisting groups in attaining funds. I've been recognized publically for some of my work. One award I am particularly proud to earn in as a Friend of the International Flyway Film Festival. This film festival is held annually every October in Pepin and Buffalo Counties along the Mississippi River Flyway.

How would you ensure that arts programs serve the state's increasingly diverse population and marginalized communities within it?

I will support the work now being done to expand art to minority and marginalized communities. Such work is already happening in our urban areas and among our Native Tribes. There is a great deal more we can do. As always, progress depends both on committed communities and access to money—some of which was cut by the current governor. See below.

You're putting together your first budget as governor. What allocations do you make for the Wisconsin Arts Board and other, existing arts-related programs?

I will restore the funding cut by the current governor for multi-cultural events and the Native American Event funding removed in his 2015-17 tourism/art budget.

I will make a "continuing appropriation" the one-time funding the current governor limited in the 2017-19 budget when he signed a one-time supplemental funding increase in the current budget. The Arts Board is required to match National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) but the governor's budget was inadequate to make this match. Also see below for administrative changes I will put in my first budget.

See answer to #5 for more details.

What new arts-related policies or programs would you propose as governor, if any?

I opposed moving the Arts Board under the Department of Tourism. This was accomplished with Governor Walker's first budget. I will restore the independence of the Arts Board.

I will provide for an independent Arts Board budget in my first budget. I would provide for administrative support only under the Department of Tourism. I would give the Arts Board authority to establish its own program policies and make its own requests for agency support, budget changes and staff. I would make all positions, that are not executive in nature, classified staff (i.e. under the civil service system). This is something that was changed by the current governor.

I will provide funding to the Arts Board, for public art. This program will be funded through a percentage of the construction of state buildings. Under this program, a percent of the building costs of any public building will be used to acquire art to be incorporated into the new structure or displayed inside or on the grounds of the structure. The new program will be overseen by the newly independent Arts Board. This program is similar to one eliminated by the current governor.

I will expand the use of art in the Department of Corrections and the institutions under the direction of the Department of Health including Mendota and Winnebago. I will appoint an Art Therapist to oversee the use of art in the work of juvenile corrections.

How would you empower local governments to support the arts in their communities?

First, by easing the financial crisis faced by most of local government. I will propose an increase in Shared Revenue and a path forward to change the Shared Revenue Formula.

Second, I will also urge the Newly Independent Arts Board to work with local government to propose new budget initiatives.

The Trump administration has repeatedly proposed eliminating the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, which together have provided more than $30 million in grants to organizations in Wisconsin since 2010. How would you respond if such proposals were floated again, and what about if they were passed into law?

I will express my deep dissatisfaction with such a plan, publically and repeatedly. I will work to ease concerns about continued funding through other options including alternative state funding.

What we learned during and after Between The Waves 2018

What we learned during and after Between The Waves 2018

A story from a tear-gas-tinged era

A story from a tear-gas-tinged era

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