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What Inspires Us

• Madison’s first piece of public art, Forward, was created by a woman, Jean Pond Miner in 1893, with her creation and casting funded almost entirely by women. ($6,000 in 1893 =$155,500 in today’s dollars)

Forward’s recasting in 1996 was also organized and funded primarily by women of Madison.

Forward’s legacy and presence is an empowering image for us and for women in our state.

What We’re Doing

• Launching a $400,000 arts endowment, Women Artists Forward Fund, to be held at Madison Community Foundation (MCF) in order to support established and emerging women visual artists of Madison annually with grants in the amount of 15,000 -5,000 dollars each.

• Creating art installations, Being Forward, that call attention to the strong legacy of local women’s art, art activism and arts philanthropy over 125 years, and involving hundreds of Madison women.

• Celebrating MCF’s 75th anniversary, the Capitol’s 100th anniversary, and the 100th anniversary of Wisconsin’s ratification of the 19th Amendment, with a community challenge, gift and opportunity.

Why It Matters

• Art provides important civic assets for our community, but current funding for artists is bleak.

• Wisconsin is ranked 48th in the country for arts funding, with just 13 cents per capita dedicated to the arts. (Neighbor Minnesota is first with $6.36 dedicated to arts)

• Madison does not have adequate funding for the arts.

o Madison Arts Commission and Dane Arts together distribute $300,000 to ALL Madison and Dane County artists and arts organizations yearly, but just under 4% goes to individual artists in all media. Wisconsin Arts Board discontinued its grants to individual visual artists in 2010; MCF, MAC & Dane Arts discontinued Creative ArtistsFellowship in 2010.

• Women artists have far fewer opportunities than their male counterparts.

o 27% of solo exhibitions in the US are by women.

o 3-5% of artwork in permanent collections of major museums are made by women.

o 2 women artists made the top 100 artists lists by income.

o Yet, 65-75% of MFA candidates in the US are women. -National Museum of Women’s Art, Washington, DC

What Your Money Will Pay For

• 100% of your gift will go toward the Women Artists Forward Fund, held at MCF.

• Annual grants will be awarded to qualified, diverse & exceptional women visual artists in Madison.

Advisory Board

Jane Coleman, Camille Haney, Chele Isaac, Tom Linfield, Peter Lundberg, Toni Sikes, and Martha Taylor

Who We Are

Brenda Baker and Bird Ross are local artists who show their work nationally and internationally, and have a strong desire to elevate opportunities for women in their field.


The purpose of the Women Artists Forward Fund (WAFF) is to recognize and support outstanding women artists in the Madison area through yearly-unrestricted grants that will further their work and contribute positively to a growing Madison arts community. The mission of the Women Artists Forward Fund is to address gender disparity issues that exist for women artists by providing them with financial resources to continue strengthening their work, along with recognition and community support. Two grants will be awarded annually. 

The project is inspired by the Forward sculpture standing on the Capitol grounds. Created by Jean Pond Miner in 1893, Wisconsin’s first piece of public art was revolutionary, as it was created by a woman and funded entirely by women before they had the right to vote, to own property, or the encouragement to use their artistic talents. Forward has inspired millions of women past and present to reach their full potential. 

Click here

for a one-page

summary of WAFF

Click here

for a three-page

summary of WAFF

Brenda Baker, “Seed Pod,”
buckthorn & honeysuckle

Bird Ross, “Red,” fabric & thread

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