Sheboygan Arts Foundation (aka John Michael Kohler Arts Center) (Sheboygan, WI)

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Older man holding the hand of a young boy on stage. The boy is holding a pinwheel in his other hand

Participants in Language from the Land, a community performance developed by the Liz Lerman Dance Exchange Residency in 2010

The John Michael Kohler Arts Center is "a catalyst and explorer of new art and ideas that impact artists and public." Incorporated in 1959, the center’s mission is to inspire the creation and enjoyment of transformative art that is produced when communities connect. The Kohler Arts Center has established multi-arts programming ranging from exhibitions and performances to dance classes and artist residencies help to achieve this mission. 

In its commitment to serving nontraditional and underserved communities, the Arts Center is partnering with sixteen community organizations to develop 28 weeks of residencies with visual, performing and literary artists. The project, called Connecting Communities, is receiving a $65,000 NEA Access to Artistic Excellence grant. Using the Arts Center as a home base, artists will present and discuss their work, lead workshops and rehearsals, and create a culminating series of collaborative public art works. A major aspect of this project will involve outreach to minority cultural associations, senior centers, shelters, and schools.

Collaboration 1, First Wave Hip-Hop Theater, will host an ensemble of artists from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Under the direction of artistic director Chris Walker, the group of poets, dancers, and actors will work with at-risk youth to create identity-revealing performances. The culminating project will include three company performances and three original community-developed performances, to be presented November, 2012.

In a 2010 Connecting Communities project, Creature Comforts, NY fiber artist John Murphy worked with cancer patients and community members to create "creature pillows."

Visual artists Truman Lowe and Amie McNeel will lead Collaboration 2, Trail Markers. Their residencies will involve collaborations with seniors and children to research Sheboygan Country’s trails and way-finding systems, intended as transportation alternatives for residents. During the summer of 2012 they will create art works to be integrated into the current trail system and will exhibit their concepts and drawings in September.

Authorizing the Unauthorized will be the third collaboration led by Wooster Collective founders Sara and Marc Schiller. The project will commission street artists to create authorized public art. “Finding ways of using their communities as canvases,” the artists will work with immigrant communities, residents of homeless and domestic abuse shelters and at-risk youth to create two to five street art works throughout the summer of 2012.