Eau Claire Receives Arts Wisconsin Grant
state grant will help unemployed or underemployed local artists
WE’RE ALL IN
The Eau Claire Public Arts Council was one of 10 organizations across Wisconsin to receive the “We’re All In” Creative Workforce program grant from Arts Wisconsin in partnership with the Pablo Center, local organizations, and with support from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. and private sector partners. The grant – which has been awarded to a total of six organizations in the state with four pending – provides up to $7,000 to support unemployed or underemployed artists in the Chippewa Valley.
“$7,000 isn’t going to change the world, but it is a start for us,” said Jo Ellen Burke, president of the council. “And we feel like this is so timely. We’re trying to be sensitive to how many unemployed and underemployed artists there are, and we’re so thankful to Arts Wisconsin and WEDC for this grant.”
This grant is the first of its kind, Burke said, and the council is putting grant funds immediately to use with an open call for artists for project proposals. The theme of their call is “Connecting Our Community With Compassion and Words.” It asks artists to consider how people connect with others through art, with an emphasis on the disconnect between diverse communities.
What we would ideally like to do is create settings where people can be drawn to not just look at art, but be engaged in discussion, engage in reviewing how they think about things, get people and the power of words to discuss racism, social justice, equity, and those themes that we all need to address these days. It makes it a place where art can heal, art can provoke thought, and art can bring a community together. –Jo Ellen Burke, president of the Eau Claire Public Arts Council
“What we would ideally like to do is create settings where people can be drawn to not just look at art, but be engaged in discussion,” Burke said, “engage in reviewing how they think about things, get people and the power of words to discuss racism, social justice, equity, and those themes that we all need to address these days. It makes it a place where art can heal, art can provoke thought, and art can bring a community together.”
The council seeks visual artists whose work will reflect “an understanding of civic engagement, addressing inclusion, collaboration, and communication,” according to their open call. They also hope that artists collaborate with local writers to create collaborative conversation-starting pieces.
The deadline for submissions is Aug. 28 at 9pm. Artists may apply through the form, found here: bit.ly/wereallinrfp.
“The Eau Claire Public Arts Council is honored and energized that Arts Wisconsin saw promise in our reengaged organization and chose our community to launch this initiative,” said Sara Larsen, the marketing chair for the Eau Claire Public Arts Council. “Additionally, being able to financially support the creative community and have a new public art project created as a result of this grant is exciting for Eau Claire.”
LOCAL ARTISTS UNITE
But the Public Arts Council’s recent work with local artists doesn’t end there. The council also worked with Visit Eau Claire and the Pablo Center at the Confluence to create a registry of local artists to include people with expertise in ceramics/pottery, craft, digital art, glass, graphics, illustration, jewelry, literary, metalworking, mixed media, mural painting, painting, photography, sculpture, textile, woodworking, and more.
The database began with the launch of artFULL Eau Claire, an initiative that supports local art, during Creative Economy Week – the newly reformed arts council’s first event – which was in partnership with Visit Eau Claire and Downtown Eau Claire Inc.
“We found that there was definitely a need for a database for artists and for people who are looking for artists,” Burke said, “so it works two ways.” Artists can fill out a form to be featured (for free!) on the registry by visiting www.visiteauclaire.com/artfull-eau-claire/artists-registry/registry/. The artFULL Eau Claire artist registry is put on in partnership with the Public Arts Council, Visit Eau Claire, and the Pablo Center, creating a first-of-its-kind collaboration. “It’s really overdue that we do these things together instead of competing,” Burke said.
Currently, there are 54 artists on the registry, according to Kenzi Havlicek, the director of marketing at Visit Eau Claire.
“The artist registry is a great resource for people who are looking to work with visual artists but don’t know where to start,” Havlicek said.
“We hope that this free resource not only helps connect our community with the talented creatives we have in the Chippewa Valley, but also showcases the immense range of artistic individuals that call this area home.” –Sara Larsen, marketing chair, Eau Claire Public Arts Council
The listings can include the artist’s name and description of their business, contact information, link to their website, event calendar listing, online brochure link, multiple photos, multiple videos, social media links, and social media feeds.
“We hope that this free resource not only helps connect our community with the talented creatives we have in the Chippewa Valley, but also showcases the immense range of artistic individuals that call this area home,” Larsen said.
The creation of an artist database helps the Eau Claire Public Arts Council search for folks who may be ideal candidates for the “We’re All In” workforce program and creates opportunities that align with the council’s mission statement, which the Board recently approved:
“The Eau Claire Public Arts Council works to improve cultural access to and visibility of art. Focused on the power of public art to inspire social and personal change, we are a liaison between artists, residents, civic leaders, and local businesses. We foster artwork that focuses on catalyzing cultural exchanges and connections, building equity, inclusion, and justice. Through powerful, culturally-attuned and aesthetically-stimulating artistic manifestations, we are committed to impacting the lives of those individuals and neighborhoods we serve.”
More information about the Eau Claire Public Arts Council can be found at www.facebook.com/ECpublicarts.