Arts Build: Using the Arts to Foster Economic Development in Rural Southwest Wisconsin

by Heidi Dyas-McBeth

UW-Platteville’s Office of Continuing Education is working to assist Southwest Wisconsin artists, artisans and crafts persons interested in beginning or expanding their arts-related businesses – through an economic development grant from UW-Extension. The purpose is to increase the professional and business capacity of arts workers through training, mentoring, counseling, and networking.

The grant project, Arts Build, started with informational meetings to introduce the program and its partners, and to hear about the types of assistance participants would find helpful. Arts Build partners include Southwest Wisconsin Small Business Development Center, Wisconsin Arts Board, Wisconsin Assembly for Local Arts, Platteville Business Incubator, UW-Extension, local chambers and arts organizations.

Meetings were held at four locations, attended by 140 people who completed surveys to identify their assistance needs and provide contact information. As a result, an Arts Build Directory was created to connect participants with each other, and workshops/classes were developed in response to requests, including: Wisconsin Common Market information session (August), Developing a Business Plan training (September), Macintosh computer classes (September-October), Grant Writing workshops (2004-2005). In addition, the Arts Congress (October) and Assembly on the Road technical workshops (2004-2005) will address participants’ needs.

To learn more about Arts Build and upcoming meetings, contact Heidi Dyas-McBeth, 608-342-1314, dyasmc@uwplatt.edu.

Notes on upcomming Arts Build meetings
• Monroe, Sept. 23rd from 7:00 – 8:00 pm at the Monroe Arts Center – Have been invited to attend the Artist Alliance of Green County’s monthly meeting to talk about Arts Build. If you live in Green County and would like to learn more about the Artist Alliance of Green County, the Monroe Arts Center and Arts Build this is the meeting for you.
• Richland Center, Sept. 27th from 7:00 – 8:30 pm TBA – (still working on confirming this date)
• Prairie du Chien, Oct. 4th from 7:00 – 8:30 pm at Community Room in the Prairie du Chien City Hall
• Spring Green, Oct. 25th from 7:00 – 8:30 pm, TBA – (still working on confirming this date)