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Arts Board Celebrates at Write On

Leaders and founders of more than 15 Door County arts nonprofits and galleries gathered at Write On Door County on May 28 to celebrate 50 years of the Wisconsin Arts Board. 

At the event, Arts Board Executive Director George Tzougros addressed the funding disparity Wisconsin faces when compared to neighboring states when it comes to the creative economy. Per capita funding of the Arts Board in Wisconsin is 18 cents per person, ranking 49th in the country. The Minnesota Arts Board is funded at a rate of $9.62 per capita, Tzougros said. 

“It’s disrespectful of the artists and the arts organizations,” Tzougros said. “And while we’re thinking about the creative economy and how we keep young artists in our state, one of the symbols is how we support the arts. This is not a good answer that we’re giving.”

To make a better case for funding, Tzougros and his staff are traveling the state and gathering ideas from artists and arts organizations about what additional funding would mean to them, and how they would use it to impact schools, residents and the wider community.

He also took time to recognize David and Jeanne Aurelius, whose program to create the tile mosaic at Gibraltar School nearly 30 years ago inspired the Arts Board to fund similar projects in schools around the state. Tzougros also singled out Anne Emerson, who founded Edgewood Orchard Galleries with her mother more than 50 years ago, and was also a founder and driving force behind Friends of Gibraltar, Door Community Auditorium and Write On, Door County. 

“It isn’t only about the economics of it all, it’s about all of the things the arts bring to communities that educate, enrich and combat social issues, like loneliness,” Tzougros said. 

Learn more at WAB50.gov.

To listen to a Door County Pulse podcast about Wisconsin’s underfunded arts with Brian Kelsey, managing director of Peninsula Players and chair of the Wisconsin Arts Board, go to doorcountypulse.com/wisconsins-underfunded-arts/.

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