Mission and Purpose
Our Mission: To use the arts as a means of economic development for rural Southwest Wisconsin.
Our Purpose: Improve the economy of the region by expanding existing and developing new art-related businesses and partnerships.
ArtsBuild: In 2004, the Office of Continuing Education (OCE) at UW-Platteville undertook a bold and innovative venture in support of rural artists in Southwest Wisconsin. Realizing that the arts are an untapped resource in the local economy, the OCE launched ArtsBuild to assist area artists in acquiring the skills they need to become entrepreneurs, thus helping to drive economic development in their communities. Initially supported through funding from a University of Wisconsin-Extension Continuing EDvantage grant, the program currently moves forward with financial support from the University of Wisconsin - Platteville and the Wisconsin Arts Board. The long-term funding goal for ArtsBuild is to transition from the grant funds that launched it to becoming a self-sustaining program.
Networking: Since its inception, ArtsBuild's efforts have focused on assisting artists and creative entrepreneurs in southwest Wisconsin. Initially holding grassroots, informational visits in 8 local communities (in 7 counties - Crawford, Grant, Green, Iowa, Lafayette, Richland, Sauk), with over 200 area artists attending. The database created through the programs efforts to identify artists throughout the region has grown to include over 350 area artists and creative entrepreneurs.
Education: In response to survey feedback from participants, ArtsBuild has sponsored workshops, training, topical conversations, mentoring and networking opportunities. As of Fall 2006, over 38 educational and other activities have been offered with over 340 registrations. In addition, a mentoring project was piloted in February, 2005 - 19 interested participants were paired with 11 participating mentors.
Marketing: Increasing visibility and connecting artists with each other and with local, regional and statewide arts, business and economic development resources was strengthened with the publication of the first ever, printed 2005 Directory of Artists in Southwest Wisconsin. The directory was a direct result of funding from the Trelay Company of Livingston, WI and was distributed throughout the region. An online version can be viewed on the ArtsBuild website www.uwplatt.edu/cont_ed/artsbuild.
Partnerships: Strong working partnerships were developed with area arts organizations, Main Street programs, Chambers of Commerce, county UW-Extension offices, regional economic development organizations and statewide arts agencies like the Wisconsin Arts Board and Arts Wisconsin. These pARTnerships contribute to the scope and the success of the project, connecting area arts organizations and creative entrepreneurs with expanded resources.
ArtsBuild Receives Statewide Recognition:
ArtsBuild was recognized by Wisconsin Rural Partners as the 2006 Top Rural Development Initiative in the state. The award was based on ArtsBuild's "spirit of partnership and collaboration in creating positive community impact."
"The idea for one of Wisconsin's foremost rural economic development efforts germinated at UW-Platteville, engaged the surrounding area and now stands to inform regional development across the state. Their unique wisdom: building a solid economic base on the arts and culture industry - a growing sector and a magnet for the talented workforce and the businesses that follow it. The ArtsBuild model, developed in partnership with the UWP Continuing Education Office, drives communities to inventory and revalue their cultural assets, make entrepreneurs of artists and turn innovative collaborations into powerful forces to leverage new investment and economic activity in a region. It is a story I tell all across the state."
--Lieutenant Governor Barbara Lawton
A bit of history
ArtsBuild, launched in April 2004, started as an economic development initiative funded through UW-Extension's Continuing Education Outreach division at UW-Platteville. Rural boy wonder Ricky Rolfsmeyer is widely considered to be the "initiator" of ArtsBuild. Ricky worked with two of the Office of Continuing Education staff members, Rick Morgan and Kerie Wedige, to write the original proposal, which featured using the arts to foster economic development in Southwest Wisconsin. Heidi Dyas-McBeth served as Coordinator from when ArtsBuild was established until May, 2008, when Carole Spelic' took over. Carole has been an active ArtsBuild participant since the very first ArtsBuild community listening session in Platteville in 2004. She is a visual artist, musician, gallerist and teacher. (Heidi has moved on to co-ownership of the charming "Driftless Market" on Main Street in Platteville, which provides fabulous fresh food, local artwork and hand-made products.)
ArtsBuild has been recognized as an innovative and effective program and has built a reputation of excellence – being recognized as the "Top Rural Development Initiative" by Wisconsin Rural Partners in 2006, with an "Award for Excellence in Civic Engagement" from UW-Extension, also in 2006, and as a "Regional Economy Builder" by the Southwest Wisconsin Regional Economic Development Coalition in 2008. The focus of these honors has been on ArtsBuild's success in "increasing the business capacity of arts entrepreneurs and helping communities realize the importance of arts to a vital economy."
A word from the Director
"As Director of Continuing Education at UW-Platteville, I appreciate the opportunity to be part of the 'creative economy' movement in the region and the state. I have learned a great deal from working with ArtsBuild and being on the Board of Directors for Arts Wisconsin. It is gratifying to know that our work is supported by Lt. Governor Lawton and our area's legislators, and by Chancellor Markee at UW-Platteville—who supports ArtsBuild financially as well as through his work on campus to promote the visibility of the arts. It was an honor to have ArtsBuild named as a partner organization by the Wisconsin Arts Board last year—which includes receiving support from the Arts Board, and affirmation that we serve in a valuable role by connecting them with the artists in this region."
- Marian Maciej-Hiner