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Women have used their artistic talents, voices, and creativity since the beginning of time, yet:

  • Only .5% of all recorded history centers on women’s ideas, views, expressions, or experiences

  • 27% of solo exhibitions in the US are by women

  • 2 women artists made the most recent top 100 artists lists by income

  • 3-5% of all artwork in major museum collections worldwide was created by female artists

  • Nearly 65-75% of all masters of fine arts students in art are women;

  • In 2019, 11% of all art acquired by the country’s top museums in the past decade was made by women

-the National Museum of Women’s Art in Washington, DC.

Wisconsin currently ranks 48th in the country for arts funding, behind only Georgia and Kansas.

  • Wisconsin spends $.13 per capita on arts funding, while neighboring Minnesota (ranked #1) spends $7.00 per capita on arts funding

  • Minneapolis, Milwaukee and Chicago all have substantial public and private grant opportunities luring artists to their communities

  • The State of Wisconsin ceased funding individual artists in 2011

  • The City of Madison and Dane County combined arts funding provides less than 4% of all available grant resources directly to individual artists, musicians, dancers, or writers in all genres, the equivalent of less than $12,000 annually

Being Forward was inspired by these appalling statistics, but also by the astounding story of Jean Pond Miner, her sculpture Forward that stands in front of the Wisconsin State Capitol, and revolutionary women who financially supported her practice back in 1893. Forward remains one Wisconsin’s oldest existing pieces of public art, and the only existing outdoor sculpture of a woman in the country from before the turn of the century that was funded by women.


Miner created her now famous allegorical copper statue of a woman at the Columbia Exposition in Chicago, but it was the women behind Miner, that made her work everlasting. A full twenty-six years before the ratification of the 19th amendment giving women the right to vote, Wisconsin women raised nearly all of the funds to support Miner’s work, the equivalent of $155,000 in today’s dollars. They also ensured Forward’s placement on the grounds of the Wisconsin state capitol building. One hundred years later, when Forward was in dire need of repair, Wisconsin women rescued Forward from being relocated to the Capitol’s basement and raised $65,000 to have her recast in bronze and moved to the most prominent corner of the Capitol grounds.


Being Forward, the Women Artist Forward Fund and the Forward Art Prize come at a time when gender inequities in the arts and inadequate arts support in our state, city and county are sadly not a thing of the history books, and require all of our efforts to help rectify.

The Women Artists Forward Fund will award two annual, unrestricted Forward Art Prizes of $10,000 each to diverse, talented women artists in Dane County, Wisconsin to support their work, and to ensure that women artists' work is given a higher profile in our community. These awards will be made into perpetuity, with the goal of helping retain creative talent in a community that currently offers few financial resources for artists, while contributing to the creation of a more dynamic, thriving arts community in Dane County.  


The Women Artists Forward Fund hopes to continue to grow its assets, and create even greater opportunities for women artists in our community. Please consider a gift to the fund today.  The Fund for Women held at Madison Community Foundation was created in 1998 with an endowment starting at $100,000, and has grown into over $2.4 million in assets to be used to better the lives of women and girls in our community. This could also be the future of the Women Artist Forward Fund. Considering supporting what really matters in your life through a gift to the Women Artists Forward Fund.

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