The Institute


In the spirit of the Wisconsin Idea, the Arts Institute supports and promotes a comprehensive variety of arts programs and disciplines, whether it is our own specific programs or our partners’ events. Early in 2014, the Institute was constituted as an independent division, which allows the Institute to establish its own curriculum. By working with numerous faculty and staff in a wide range of departments and arts-related fields, the Arts Institute is in the position to create/generate conditions for bold thinking and creative problem solving. Together with our partners, we can further develop and support a vibrant arts community.


The UW-Madison Arts Institute's mission is to educate, advocate and inspire through all forms of creative expression. Please click here to read the official Arts Institute Strategic Framework.


Chancellor Edwin Young established the Arts Consortium in 1975. In 1997, the Consortium proposed the creation of an "Arts Institute" governed by the leaders of arts programs and departments and led by a 50% time director. Chancellor David Ward approved the Arts Institute structure and in 1998 it replaced the Consortium. With the new direction, the Arts Institute made significant advances in activities and scope over the Arts Consortium. These include:

  • "Arts Awards" to faculty and graduate students from UW Foundation arts-related bequests
  • The Interdisciplinary Arts Residency Program which receives substantial funding from the Cluster Hire Initiative
  • Administrative partnership and support for the "Creative Arts and Design Learning Community" known as the "The Studio" in Sellery Hall
  • Development of cross-listed courses to enable artists-in-residence to teach classes
  • Establishment of the Wisconsin Film Festival
  • Creation of the Campus Arts Card

In 2009, the Arts Institute researched the impact of the arts on the UW-Madison campus and from their studies and recommendations, they designated the following academic year as Illuminate: Year of the Arts 2010-2011, which spotlighted the breadth, depth, power, and purpose of artistic exploration and expression at UW-Madison.

In 2012, after all the successes from the Arts Institute and the former Consortium, there was another proposal to create a College of the Arts on campus. This proposal has been put on hold and in the interim the Arts Institute has augmented its programming and outreach. In 2014, Chancellor Rebecca Blank constituted the Arts Institute as a campus division. View full history (PDF)