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Arts Wisconsin Presents Annual Arts in the Community Awards

Friday, October 4, 2019
Anne Katz | Arts Wisconsin

in partnership with the League of Wisconsin Municipalities awards to be presented October 24, 2019, in Green Bay


Arts Wisconsin, Wisconsin's statewide community cultural development organization, is pleased to present the eleventh annual Arts in the Community Awards, in partnership with the League of Wisconsin Municipalities. These awards honor civic leaders as champions and communities in Wisconsin focused on creativity as integral to economic, educational and community vitality.  The awards will be presented at the League's 121st annual conference, October 24, 2019, at the KI Center in Green Bay.

Sponsors of the 2019 awards are:

  • Heid Music, a music education center and a full line music playground, with locations in Appleton, Green Bay, Madison, Oshkosh and Stevens Point.
  • Redevelopment Resources of Madison, providing customized economic development and strategic planning solutions for the development and redevelopment of communities.
  • Vierbicher of Madison, Pewaukee, Prairie du Chien, and Reedsburg, providing consulting services to guide and deliver quality land and community development.
  • Wisconsin Downtown Action Council, advocating for strong, vibrant downtowns statewide.

"The Arts in the Community Awards celebrate visionary leadership in and committed advocacy for the arts in all corners of the state," says Arts Wisconsin Board President Melinda Childs. "We're proud to partner with the League of Municipalities to present this important recognition, appreciative of the sponsors who make the awards possible, and glad to shine a spotlight on the great work happening around the state."

The 2019 honorees are:

Mayor Brendan Pratt, Mayor, City of Altoona, WI


Mayor Pratt has served on the Altoona City Council for 12+ years, with the last three years as Mayor. Throughout his tenure with the city, Mayor Pratt has been an enthusiastic champion of the arts as a means for civic engagement, placemaking, and community investment.  Among his accomplishments:

  • the design, development and programming of River Prairie Park and related development. Mayor Pratt has played an integral role in the success of River Prairie, largely due to his continuing advocacy for artful design and his commitment to involving showcasing the arts within the park's public space.  Mayor Pratt supported public art as civic investment in the park, resulting in "Nexus at River Prairie," a major sculpture completed by Design Fugitives from Milwaukee. The sculpture marks the southern entrance of the park and the headwaters of Prairie Creek, a man-made river feature  that serves to tie the entire park together and provides a fun play structure for children that visit the park. Plans are in the works for future public art works in the park and the area.

  • advocating and raising money for free quality entertainment in the park, through the "Rockin' on the River," "Kickin' it Country," and "Fusion Music" concert series, featuring country, folk, blues, and rock music.  These concerts have been well-received and attended by 1,500-2,000 people weekly.  All three music series also feature plenty of space for people to dance, food trucks, and craft and farmers' markets. The Mayor spearheaded the establishment of soliciting donations from the audience to benefit local charities and parks and recreation programming to sustain the music series.  He has personally overseen raising sponsorship dollars to support programming and pay the performers a very fair performance fee.

  • supporting continuous arts integration in the park, through such projects as a city partnership with the School District of Altoona art and shop programs to create toad and fairy houses placed in the gardens in River Prairie as play features for visitors, and constructing beautiful sculptural and functional bird houses for both the visiting public and the birds to enjoy.

Waupaca Cultural Plan, a community-based public-private partnership

In 2016, Waupaca Mayor Brian Smith, former City Administrator Henry Veleker, the Waupaca Area Chamber of Commerce, and the Waupaca Community Arts Board, presented an Arts Summit that began a cultural planning process focused on:

  • historic and heritage celebration and preservation

  •  collaboration and connectedness through the arts and community

  •  creativity and vision for the city's future

  • improving quality of life through the arts, culture and creativity


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