Create Wisconsin: To present Creative Community Champion Award to City of La Crosse

The Wisconsin Creative Community Champion Awards are presented annually by Create Wisconsin 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.

In 2022, Create Wisconsin is pleased to honor the City of La Crosse for its support of and investment in the arts, culture, and creativity as essential to community well-being, quality of life, and economic, workforce, and civic growth and strength.  The 2022 award will be presented to La Crosse Mayor Mitch Reynolds and other city leaders at the League’s conference in La Crosse on October 20, 2022.

La Crosse is a community defined by a strong sense of place in its location on the Mississippi River.  It is also known for its livability and access to creative experiences and opportunities.  One of the most visible and impactful components of the city’s involvement with the arts and creativity has been its partnership with the Pump House Regional Arts Center.  The building is owned by the City and operated by the Pump House Regional Arts Center,  Inc., a nonprofit organization.  Since 1977, the Pump House has been an important key to the City’s support of the arts.  Programs include exhibition opportunities for every student in the La Crosse School District and opportunities for students in 32 districts in the region, Artspire, a free community celebration of the arts, the Compassion Project, and the development of sidewalk poetry and murals at the Pump House and in other areas of the city.

The Pump House was instrumental in the formation of the City of La Crosse Arts Board, a city advisory committee.  The Arts Board serves as a forum to receive proposals and forward them to the appropriate council committee, advocates for the arts by commenting on policies and plans of the City and by seeking non-City funding for its advancement; and analyzes gaps and opportunities in programming, support, funding, and promotion for the arts, cultural activity and economic development.  With a shared vision of a community connected and inspired by the arts, the City of La Crosse Arts Board is a major sponsor of Artspire and has accomplished a significant number of projects since its establishment in 2011, including the development of public artworks throughout the downtown, consulting with city staff and advisors to establish policies for the acceptance and creation of public art, and currently, efforts to establish the Nii Hosto Art Park, north of downtown. 

The awards are sponsored by the League of Wisconsin Municipalities, Guardian Fine Arts Services, Wisconsin Downtown Action Council, Wisconsin Presenters Network, Herb Kohl Philanthropies, and Heid Music.

Presenting Organizations

Create Wisconsin is Wisconsin’s community cultural development organization, enabling creative opportunities for everyone, everywhere in the state and activating and strengthening Wisconsin’s creative economy, workforce and communities. 

The League of Wisconsin Municipalities is a nonprofit and nonpartisan association of cities and villages that acts as an information clearinghouse, lobbying organization, technical assistance provider, and legal resource throughout Wisconsin. 

Previous Honorees:

2021:  Wisconsin’s community Poets Laureate and Writers-in-Residence, from Amery, Bayfield, Eau Claire, Kenosha, Madison, Milwaukee, Oshkosh, Racine, Sheboygan, and Wausau.

2020:  Zach Vruwink, Administrator, City of Rhinelander and former Mayor, City of Wisconsin Rapids

2019:  the City of Waupaca and the Waupaca Arts and Culture Coalition for ongoing partnership on the city’s first-ever cultural plan, and Altoona Mayor Brendan Pratt

2018:  Ken Juon, Board President, Artstart, Rhinelander, and Ryan Heise, Village Administrator, Village of Egg Harbor

2017:  Mark Elliott, Executive Director, Northwest Passage, Webster; and Stephanie Samarripa, Anti-Graffiti Program Coordinator, City of Milwaukee Department of Neighborhood Services

2016:  Creative Downtown Appleton, led by Josh Dukelow, community activist, and Paula Vandehey, City of Appleton Public Works Director; and Alan Nugent, civic leader with the Widespot Performing Arts Center in Stockholm

2015:  the City of West Bend, for long-term commitment to promote the visual and performing arts in West Bend; and the Waunakee Creative Economy Initiative, a village-led, ongoing effort to grow Waunakee’s creative economy.

2014:  Circuit Court Judge Joseph Boles and Pierce County Criminal Justice Coordinating Council, based in Ellsworth, WI, for using the arts to improve law enforcement training in de-escalating mental health crisis calls; and Reedsburg Mayor Dave Estes, Reedsburg City Administrator Ken Witt, and Reedsburg Chamber of Commerce Director Kristine Koenecke for support of Fermentation Fest – A Live Culture Convergence and the Farm/Art DTour. 

2013:  Rice Lake Main Street Program, Rice Lake; and the Sheboygan Performing Arts Association, Sheboygan

2012:  State Sen. Sheila Harsdorf, River Falls; State Sen. Bob Jauch, Poplar; Marlene Doerr Kreilkamp, Founder/Former Director, SHARP Literacy, Milwaukee; and Anastasia Shartin, Visual Arts Director, Phipps Center for the Arts, Hudson

2011:  Bill Schierl, President, Arts Alliance of Portage County, Stevens Point; and former Mayor Jeff Scrima, Waukesha

2010: Lois Smith, founder of “Walls of Wittenberg,” Wittenberg; Julia Taylor, President, Greater Milwaukee Committee, Milwaukee; the Green Bay Neighborhood Leadership Council’s Beautification Committee, Green Bay; and The Hometown Gazette newspaper, Clayton

2009: Carol Kratchowill, Vice President, Sauk County Art Association, Merrimac; and Former Menomonie Mayor Dennis Cropp and former Dunn County Board member B. Jane Hoyt, Mabel Tainter Center for the Arts, Menomonie.

For more information on the Creative Community Champion Awards and the arts, culture and creativity in Wisconsin, contact Anne Katz at Create Wisconsin, 608 255 8316 | [email protected]