Walworth County Sunday | Janesville Messenger | Stateline News



Walworth County Sunday | Janesville Messenger | Stateline News



Friday, 25 October 2013 11:47

Creative Vision project working to promote talents of local residents

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Artist Jack Zellner of Janesville works on a painting at the Raven’s Wish Gallery in downtown Janesville. Zellner said he appreciates the focus of the Creative Vision program and feels there is a need to grow the audience for local artists. Artist Jack Zellner of Janesville works on a painting at the Raven’s Wish Gallery in downtown Janesville. Zellner said he appreciates the focus of the Creative Vision program and feels there is a need to grow the audience for local artists. Dennis Hines/staff

MESSENGER -- Two local groups have a vision of making the arts a more viable part of Janesville’s economy.

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The United Arts Alliance of Rock County and the Janesville Performing Arts Center recently established the Creative Vision program to help promote local artists and to educate residents about how the arts can be used to help attract more tourists.

“The purpose is to show the type of economic impact that the arts can have on a community and the important role that the arts can play in our economy,” said Yuri Rashkin, president of the United Arts Alliance. “The purpose also is to help the artists learn how to promote their artwork.”

As part of the program, the United Arts Alliance and JPAC  host lectures in which guest speakers talk to local artists, business owners and organizations about how to work together to promote the arts in the community. The lectures are held in the Black Box Theater at JPAC.

The first lecture was held in July and featured Todd Schmidt, former Milton city administrator and current Waunakee village administrator and economic development director, who talked about how artists can market their work and events that have been held in Waunakee to help promote local artists. Michael Goldberg, executive director for the Cornado Performing Arts Center in Rockford, was the featured speaker in September and talked about how the arts can benefit the local economy.

“Attendance usually depends on the lectures. If the lecture is about the value that the arts can have on the community, it usually brings in people from outside of the arts,” Rashkin said. “If the lecture has been about marketing the arts, it has attracted local artists and local art groups, because those lectures are more focused on them.

“It’s also an opportunity to showcase the Black Box Theater. I have been encouraged by the attendance.”

Rashkin said both lectures also have been posted on

“The presentations have been posted online. It helps those who were unable to make it to the meetings,” Rashkin said. “They can check out the presentations, and hopefully they will be a useful source.”

More lectures are in the works. Anne Katz, executive director of Arts Wisconsin, is set to give a presentation in January.

“Elizabeth (Horvath, JPAC executive director), and I want to gather input for a fourth talk. I applaud Elizabeth for bringing in people from the industry,” Rashkin said. “The United Arts Alliance is thrilled to help promote the talks. We’re not sure what the fourth talk will be based on, but we want to get input from the artists. We want to take time and help develop awareness. The presentations need to have a different focus each time. We want to make this a resourceful program.”

In the future, the Creative Vision program may feature other types of events and activities.

“Right now, we want to see how it catches on,” Rashkin said. “I think the important thing is to make sure the doors are open for all artists to promote their work and to help promote the arts in Janesville.”

Rashkin said he hopes more people will become involved with the program.

“It can’t just be Yuri and Elizabeth. We want to get more people involved, including businesses, artists and organizations,” Rashkin said. “For example, My Office-JVL hosts artist receptions. It’s a way to get involved and to help promote your business. The doors are open, and we want to work together to encourage creativity.

“Since the departure of GM, we need to figure out what’s going to be the focus of Janesville. So, why can’t it be about the arts?”

“I think Janesville has a lot of creative people. We have composers, artists and sculptors,” Rashkin said. “I think Janesville has a lot more to offer than what most people think. Promoting the arts is a work in progress. Hopefully, we will be able to change people’s perceptions about Janesville, and people will realize that Janesville is open to the arts.”

Alicia Reid, owner of the Raven’s Wish Gallery in Janesville, said she feels the Creative Vision program will give more local artists an opportunity to promote their work.

“I think it will help make more people aware of the artists who are in our midst and to show how each and every person can be creative, whether it’s with hair styling or welding,” Reid said. “A lot of people don’t consider themselves to be creative, but they are.”

Local artists are excited about the program, Reid said.

“It will help make people aware that the arts don’t have to be expensive. There are ways we can promote the visual arts and the performing arts without spending a lot of money on marketing,” she said. “The people who have come to speak as part of the lectures have talked about how their community has come together to help promote the arts.”

Artist Jack Zellner of Janesville said he appreciates the focus of the program but feels there will be some challenges in promoting the arts in the community.

“Unlike Beloit, which has Beloit College, and unlike Madison, which has the university, it’s going to be tough,” Zellner said. “We’ve got a lot of creative people, but it’s going to be hard to get that creative audience like in the other cities. ...

“The arts alliance group has worked very hard to focus on the arts, whether it’s music or awards programs or working with JPAC. There’s a huge amount of work that’s been done, but the community, in general, does not support the artists that well.”

Zellner said there are several places in the area for artists to showcase their work and interact with one another.

“The good thing about the art alliance is it’s a good way to get musicians to talk to poets and artists, and all these diverse individuals are doing different things,” Zellner said. “Raven’s Wish, as a business, has all these people coming to downtown Janesville to do a painting class, and they’re coming from Elkhorn and Delavan. Here’s a downtown business that’s donating its time to bring people together…

“Having opportunities like at St. Mary’s Hospital, Edgerton Hospital and Mercy hospital to hang our work up to brighten the hallways, that’s a wonderful thing.”

Christine Rebout, executive director of the Janesville Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, said it is important to promote the arts, because it helps attract visitors to the community.

“Cultural arts are important for the community. They offer something to the residents and visitors of the community, whether it’s visual arts or music,” Rebout said. “It provides enjoyment to a vast demographic, whether it’s young or old or people who are visiting on vacation. People are more likely to visit Janesville when they have the opportunity to attend a cultural event.”

The opportunities are expanding here, Rebout said.

“Janesville has grown during the past 10 years when it comes to the visual arts,” she said. “There are more venues for theater and music and more galleries for people to view artwork.

“Janesville has offered more in cultural arts for people to enjoy.”

People in this conversation

  • Guest - Wendy kochersperger

    Amazing artist and giving man! We should have more local art events:)

    about 10 months ago
    Like 0 Short URL:

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