News & Events

UPDATE:  Create Wisconsin’s first year

Create Wisconsin’s first year (plus), which has been and is unfolding as the post-pandemic world comes into view, has been full of discovery, connections, and opportunities as Wisconsin’s community cultural development organization.  Since our beginnings in the early 1990s as a network of local arts councils, this organization has led the way to stay ahead of the local and global trends, issues, and ideas affecting Wisconsin, its people, and its communities.

As Create Wisconsin, we’ve strategically expanded our mission and scope of advocacy and development while remaining true to our core vision of creativity as THE resource Wisconsin needs in the 21st century.  

We continue to lead the way on issues concerning Wisconsin’s creative economy, workforce, civic infrastructure, and access to the arts and culture for all.  Our work supports economic, workforce, and civic engagement and development through strategic and action planning, technical assistance, and resources, for community cultural growth and sustainability. 

We’ve worked hard to make those ideas come to life over the year through a variety of advocacy and service programs including:

  • Regional Leaders Network:  Create Wisconsin is building a network of practitioners, Regional Leaders Network to address Wisconsin’s creative capacity from the ground up.  The Network is all about identifying, supporting, and connecting regional leaders and program initiatives as an interconnected community of small business practice and support.  The regional leaders come from all corners of the state and represent all sorts of 
  • Create Wisconsin Day is an annual gathering drawing hundreds of Wisconsin residents to learn, network, celebrate, and speak up with one voice on behalf of the arts, culture, and creativity. Create Wisconsin Day 2023 took place April 12-13 at the Overture Center for the Arts and the Art + Literature Lab in Madison.
  • Wisconsin’s Creative Economy Coalition:  The Creative Economy refers to unleashing the power of the creative industry and activities that rely on the creativity, skills, and talent of individuals and organizations to drive growth and strength at all levels. The industry includes, but is not limited to, film and video, music, performing arts, visual arts, museums, heritage sites, venues, festivals, and other cultural events that contribute to the state’s cultural vibrancy and identity.

When the creative industry thrives, everybody wins. Creative talent fuels growth in the economy, the workforce and community. Wisconsin’s creative sector – people, organizations, businesses, and communities – is a 21st century industry economic engine. Wisconsin’s Creative Economy Coalition is about investing in Wisconsin’s creative sector to grow and stabilize the state’s creative economy, workforce, and communities.

Learn more about the Coalition and sign up for advocacy and action at

  • Make Music Day: Launched in 1982 in France as the Fête de la Musique, Make Music Day is celebrated on the same day in more than 1,000 cities in 120 countries around the world.

    Completely different from a typical music festival, Make Music is open to anyone who wants to take part. Every kind of musician — young and old, amateur and professional, of every musical persuasion — pours onto streets, parks, plazas, and porches to share their music with friends, neighbors, and strangers. All of it is free and open to the public.

    In 2023, Wisconsin’s Make Music Day encompassed 21 communities – the largest number of participating communities in any state, with communities of all sizes participating:  Appleton, Barron, Beloit, Chequamegon Bay, DeForest, Eau Claire, Green Bay, Kenosha, La Crosse, Land O’ Lakes, Madison, Marshfield, Middleton, Milwaukee, Platteville, River Valley, Sparta, Stevens Point, Sun Prairie, Superior and Waunakee.

    More info about Make Music Day is at

In addition, through our work with statewide civic organizations like WDAC, League of Municipalities, Wisconsin Counties Association, and Wisconsin Rural Partners, we have an “ongoing conversation” and strong connections with Wisconsin’s  government agencies, local and regional development organizations and planning commissions, CVBs, Chambers of Commerce, BID Districts and Main Street Programs.  Create Wisconsin has always made it a priority to get out into the state to learn from and advise its wide-ranging constituency.

Since our founding in the early 1990s, we’ve facilitated hundreds, or maybe thousands, of planning processes, meetings, conversations, and discussions with local officials, economic development professionals, and civic leaders.   Here are examples of the kind of strategic planning service Create Wisconsin is providing, just in the past year:

  • Town of Ledgeview Public Art planning, March-August 2023
  • Wausau Creative Summit, hosted by City of Wausau and Center for Visual Arts – May 19, 2023
  • Wisconsin Main Street Program awards review, February 2023
  • Superior Cultural Events and Public Art Commission Planning Session, hosted by City of Superior, January 2023
  • Connecting Evers Administration and legislative decision-makers with creative economy leaders for education and technical assistance
  • Oshkosh Public Art Summit, hosted by Discover Oshkosh, City of Oshkosh Public Art and Beautification Committee, December 2022, with over 100 attendees
  • Barron County Creative Summit, hosted by the Barron County Economic Development Corporation, December 2022  
  • Wisconsin Rapids Public Art Planning Session, hosted by City of Wisconsin Rapids Planning Department, October 2022 
  • Public art planning with City of La Crosse Arts Committee, July 2022
  • Creative economy info sessions in Sauk County, SW Wisconsin, Rhinelander, Door County, NW Wisconsin, Waupaca, and Marinette, June 2022 through April 2023 
  • Planning conversations with municipal staff and civic leaders in Altoona, Darlington, Madison, Marshfield, Milwaukee, Viroqua, Wausau, Washburn, and West Allis.

Whew!   That’s a lot, and there’s so much texture and richness in each interaction.  Go to for more information, and feel free to get in touch with us to discuss the creative economy and cultural development in your community, at 608 255 8316 | [email protected].

Thanks to the Wisconsin Downtown Action Council for allowing Create Wisconsin to share some updates and news.  We appreciate our long-term partnership with WDAC and our shared focus on downtowns and community.

Anne Katz, Director, Create Wisconsin 

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