Small Arts & Culture Cohort (SMAC)

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A nonprofit fundraiser supporting

Create Wisconsin Inc
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small organizations uniting through a new model for arts funding in Milwaukee

$199,210

raised by 66 people

$945,000 goal

2 years left

Thank you for your interest in Milwaukee's Small Arts and Culture Cohort!  

We are committed to raising $873,600 to provide every cohort member organization with general operating support up to $25,000 per year for three years. Deepest gratitude goes to the inaugural donors who've given or pledged toward our ambitious 3-year goal, including the Heil Family Foundation's lead gift of $30,000 per year, and the Ponasik Family's gift of $10,000 per year. Thanks to them, we are off to a great start!

When you support the Small Arts and Culture Cohort, you are changing the landscape of arts funding in Milwaukee by strengthening 11 grassroots arts organizations which reach every neighborhood in our city. Your three-year pledge of any amount will allow these small organizations to pay artists an equitable wage, build capacity to ensure their vibrancy for the future, and strengthen the cohort’s collaborative impact on the arts and well-being of our city.

You can help us reach our first milestone of $157,000 by the end of this year, which will allow us to begin distributing funds to cohort member organizations in 2024. We are thrilled with the community response so far to our campaign launch in November 2023, and welcome our new donors at all levels for their support of our innovative cohort funding model.

To make a multi-year pledge, or if you prefer not to donate online, please send a check to our fiscal receiver:

Create Wisconsin, Box 1054, Madison, WI 53701-1054

Make checks payable to Create Wisconsin and indicate that the donation is for SMAC.

You can also support SMAC and its participant organizations today with a monthly or one-time gift of any amount through this MightyCause site.

Thank you so much!


Why Support a Small Arts and Culture Cohort?

Challenge:  A lack of reliable funding limits small arts and cultural organizations by restricting the ability to plan for the long term. (Small encompasses groups with small annual budgets and small number of staff.)

Idea:  By uniting a group of small arts organizations in one proposal/funding request, we generate a new model for arts funding.  This funding and cohort model will improve the arts ecosystem throughout Milwaukee by:

Inspiring collaboration rather than competition  
Creating opportunities for knowledge-sharing and mutual support 
Leveraging the built-in efficiencies of a cohort model
Supporting Milwaukee-based artists and their extended communities
Addressing imperative civic and public health goals

Response: SMAC
We are a cohort of 11 established and emerging organizations. 
- We share a desire to support each other artistically as well as professionally. 
- We create profound, healing, experiences in a variety of arts forms.
- We are committed to leveraging the power of the arts for the betterment of Milwaukee.
- We are key catalysts on the path toward a more inclusive and diverse creative community.  

We are demographically representative of our community in Milwaukee County:  

  • 38% Black/AA 
  • 35% White 
  • 18% Hispanic/Latinx 
  • 4%   Asian 
  • 5%   Other Non-White 

Together, we create healthier, more vibrant Milwaukee.


SMAC Member Organizations
Aperi Animam   CAPITA Productions DanceCircus
Ex Fabula Ko-Thi Dance Company
Milwaukee Opera Theatre Pink Umbrella Theater
Quasimondo Physical Theatre The Constructivists
Walker's Point Center for the Arts WoLF Studios MKE


Cohort member organizations:

  • Have an operating budget under $300,000
  • Are either a registered 501c3 nonprofit or have nonprofit fiscal sponsorship
  • Has a minimum of one staff person
  • Are committed to meeting regularly as a cohort through 2026

For more information, our campaign launch press release can be found HERE. To learn about each participating cohort member, please click on the blue buttons above.


We welcome your support at any level! Thank you. 

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