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Milwaukee Arts Board Announces 2020 Mildred L. Harpole Artists of the Year And Friends of the Arts Awards


Artists Rosy Petri and Ras ‘Ammar Nsoroma were named 2020 Mildred L. Harpole Artists of the Year, the City of Milwaukee Arts Board (MAB) announced. Marie Kohler and Fatima Laster were named 2020 Friends of the Arts.

The Artists of the Year Award was renamed in 2020 in honor of late, beloved arts board member Mildred L. Harpole.

“These last tumultuous months reminded all of us that the arts are essential to our community life,” said Alderman Michael Murphy, Milwaukee Arts Board Chair. “We are pleased to honor these dedicated individuals for sharing both their creative talent and their service to our community.”  More

City of Milwaukee Arts Board to Replace Project Grant Program with Sustaining Grants

When Milwaukee arts organizations submitted their Milwaukee Arts Board Project Grant applications back in early March, no one knew two weeks later they’d all be working from home watching the spring arts season dissolve.

While the City’s arts community faces the future with creativity and determination, the only thing certain about the coming year is that it will be much different than before. The MAB has determined it no longer makes practical sense to competitively rank applications based on programs that may or may not happen despite best efforts.

 At its May meeting the MAB, chaired by Ald. Michael Murphy,  voted to suspend its annual project-based grant program and replace it with a sustaining grant program. Recipients may apply funds toward program, administrative, or facilities costs.  The grant is open to eligible nonprofit arts organizations based in the City of Milwaukee that have received a MAB Project grant in the last four years (2016-2019), a standard similar to that adopted by both the Wisconsin Arts Board and the National Endowment for the Arts.

“This approach allows us to extend assistance to a larger number of arts organizations and offer them greater flexibility to put the money where they decide it is most needed at this critical moment.” Mayor Tom Barrett said.  “These are dollars that stay in our community in support of arts nonprofits that keep many of us creatively sustained in a difficult time. They send kids home with art kits, post art lessons online, stream concerts, plays and online gallery nights, turn costume shops into mask production hubs, and raise funds for fellow independent artists. We’ll need them even more in the days ahead.”

The Milwaukee Arts Board grant program is funded by the City of Milwaukee with additional support from the Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the State of Wisconsin and the National Endowment for the Arts.  The MAB also awards matching funds for New Works of Public Art and Conservation of Public Art.

All MAB 2020 grant funds opened in January

The City of Milwaukee Arts Board has released guidelines and applications for 2020 funding programs.  The newest program will make up to $25,000 available for nonpartisan public art projects related to Art and Civic Engagement.  The preliminary application deadline is Jan. 31, 2020.

At least $270,000 in Project Grant funding will be awarded in amounts of either $4,000 or $8,000 to 501c3 arts organizations for performances, exhibits, arts programming and arts education.  The hard deadline for the project grant program is Monday, March 9.

Up to $25,000 in matching funds are available for Public Art New Work and up to $15,000 for Conservation of Public Art. In 2020, public art applications will be considered on a rolling basis, as long as funds remain, with the first review scheduled for the March 10, 2020 Public Art Subcommittee Meeting. Organizations wishing their  applications considered at that meeting should submit them no later than midnight, Feb. 29, 2020. Thereafter, applications will be considered in the order received.

Project Grants

The Milwaukee Arts Board (MAB) Grant Program serves to bring accessibility and enjoyment of the arts to the citizens of our culturally diverse city. We do this by essentially "purchasing" arts programming and arts education from  Milwaukee's eligible arts organizations.  By so doing, we provide a measure of financial support to our vibrant and exciting arts community. The MAB promotes the formation and growth of artistic projects or programs that are administered by and responsive to the needs of Milwaukee's racial and ethnic minority communities. Grant guidelines and applications are released annually in January.


Public Art Conservation Fund

The Milwaukee Arts Board Public Art Conservation Fund preserves that part of the city's cultural and civic heritage embodied in its public art. Funds are made available every six months, releasing applications in January and July. Works of art must be located in the City of Milwaukee and must be fully accessible to the public. Priority will be given to art works of particular historical, cultural or aesthetic importance. Priority will also be given to projects with a well-formulated fundraising plan and evidence of fundraising sucess.

Public Art New Work Fund

The City of Milwaukee Public Art Subcommittee seeks strategic partnerships with organizations, neighborhoods and artists to commission public art in the City of Milwaukee. Although the Arts Board's public art resources are limited, the subcommittee can use its technical expertise to assist in the preparation of RFQ's and selection processes, and can work with partners to select artists and leverage resources.

Mildred L. Harpole Artists of the Year and Friends of the Arts

A memorial bequest in honor of local artist and MAB member Jim Chism launched the first Artist of the Year Award in 1995.  Additional funding comes from donations.  Artists are nominated for the award by members of the Arts Board. In 2019 The Arts Board voted to rename the Artists of the Year Award in honor of the late, beloved member Mildred L. Harpole.

In 2012 the MAB created a new award, "Friends of the Arts," to recognize those who, often behind the scenes, have demonstrated exemplary support to the arts community.

About Us

The Milwaukee Arts Board (MAB) was created to enhance the development, cultural diversity, accessibility and enjoyment of the arts for Milwaukee's citizens. All regular meetings of the Milwaukee Arts Board are scheduled for the 2nd Tuesday of the month at 4:00 p.m. and are held in Room 301-A or 303 of City Hall, 200 E. Wells St. Dates and location are subject to change.

The Arts Board provides a range of support to arts and community organizations that produce innovative projects or programs. Additionally, the MAB is committed to supporting public art projects that provide a sense of place, celebrating our community in city neighborhoods, parks and public spaces. For specific information about the MAB please contact Sally Witte at 414-286-5794 or

Milwaukee Public Library - East Branch

The Milwaukee Arts Board partially funded works by two local artists at the new East Library Branch, which officially opened on November 22, 2014. Read more about the project on the Library website.

  • kathryn e. martin
  • Santiago Cucullu

Contact Us

City of Milwaukee Arts Board

City of Milwaukee Arts Board
809 N. Broadway, 2nd Floor
Milwaukee, WI 53202

(414) 286-5794

Learn more about meetings, members and agendas of the Milwaukee Arts Board and Public Art Subcommittee on Legistar.

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This program is supported in part by a grant from the Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the State of Wisconsin.


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