Art Alert: letter and reply from Sen Wanggaard

I followed the Art Alert suggestion to write my senator a letter urging him NOT to cut funding to the Wisconsin State Arts Board. See my personal note in italics below and Sen. Wanggaard’s reply in green that follows. It is evident that Sen. Wanggard could not care less about funding for the arts in Wisconsin.

If you have not sent a letter yet, do so soon. Post letters and replies from representatives here  at Scene Unseen as comments to this post.

From: []

Sent: Fri 4/15/2011 5:48 PM

To: Sen.Wanggaard

Subject: The arts are part of the solution for Wisconsin

Patricia Briggs
3412 Chatham Street
Racine, WI 53402-3804

April 15, 2011

The Honorable Van H. Wanggaard
Wisconsin Senate
PO Box 7882
Madison, WI 53707-7882

Dear Senator Wanggaard:

I am writing to ask you to grow Wisconsin creatively by investing in our
state’s creative people, organization, and communities.

The way to do this is to have a strong, effective Wisconsin Arts Board as
the state development agency supporting the arts, culture, creativity and
innovation.  As you are considering the FY2011-2013 state budget, please
keep the Wisconsin Arts Board as an independent development agency and
keep the agency’s funding stable.

I am a new community member. I am an independent art critic and curator and I have relocated with my family to Racine from Minneapolis. I thought that I would find a very small and perhaps not so interesting art community in Racine and Kenosha because I was so used to so much high quality work in Minneapolis. But what I found in Racine and Kenosha was so exciting. I have meet many artists in my brief time here and I am amazed at how much work they do with so little state funding and with such a depressed market for art in the area. But they plug onward developing ideas and working with the community to share art and poetry with the broader community. It is horrifying to think that the few opportunities that artists in this area have to exhibit and fund their work are threatened by the proposed budget. I have embraced the artists that I have met by writing about their work in online publications because I want to help build awareness of their work and help strengthen the community. These artists have very few expectations for funding and it is a shame, but to cut further is truly shocking to me. 

Please find ways to invest in Wisconsin’s future through the Wisconsin
Arts Board, as you and your colleagues in the State Legislature deal with
the 2011-2013 state budget.

I can share stories, data and information about the ways in which the
Wisconsin Arts Board has enhanced the lives of the people of your

Your constituents appreciate your support of the arts, arts education and
creative economy. I look forward to working with you to move our district
and Wisconsin forward.


Patricia Briggs

From: “Sen.Wanggaard” <>

Date: April 16, 2011 1:28:23 PM CDT


Subject: RE: The arts are part of the solution for Wisconsin

Dear Patricia –

Thank you for contacting me regarding arts funding in the biennial state budget bill.

Wisconsin is facing an unprecedented $3,600,000,000 budget deficit. In addition, voters in 54 counties, including Racine County, voted overwhelmingly to stop raids from the state transportation fund. Governor Walker proposed cutting almost every area of the state budget in his initial proposal. I disagree with several of these cuts, and will be working with my colleagues to make changes to the budget.

The Legislature is just beginning to revise the biennial budget bill. Over the next few months the Joint Finance Committee will be going over the Governor’s proposal line by line, reviewing each expenditure and spending cut closely. When the budget is passed, there will be few, if any, programs that do not experience a spending cut of some kind.

I ran on a platform of balancing the budget without raising taxes – a promise I intend to keep.   I know that the majority of my colleagues have made the same pledge. Now is the time to get our fiscal house in order. Tough decisions need to be made. As I provide my input during the state budget process and consider my vote on the budget bill, I will be sure to keep your thoughts about budget priorities in mind.

Again, thank you for contacting me on the state budget. I encourage you to continue to contact me with your thoughts on upcoming issues before the Legislature.


Van Wanggaard

State Senator

21st Senate District

About Patricia Briggs
Patricia Briggs is the director of galleries and curator of exhibitions at Jamestown Community College in Western New York. She writes the blog "Scene Unseen: Viewing Notes" about visual art in her community.

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