The county commission “gets it” that artists are running businesses
By Michael Popke, Freelance Writer
Isthmus Magazine, July 10, 2022
As COVID-19 ravaged the livelihoods of hundreds of Dane County artists in spring 2020 by forcing the cancellation of all live appearances, Mark Fraire knew he had to stop the bleeding. The director of the Dane County Arts and Cultural Affairs Commission (better known simply as Dane Arts) secured $15,000 in private funding and began offering $250 to artists who requested it to help boost their online presence.
As more money became available from both private and public sources, Dane Arts increased the grant to $500, eventually helping 250 independent working artists in Dane County throughout 2020. Then in April 2021, thanks in no small part to Fraire’s tireless allegiance to the local arts community, Dane County Executive Joe Parisi and the Dane County Board of Supervisors allocated $1 million to Dane Arts to be distributed to artists in the form of Dane Arts Need Grants (DANG)
“I wanted to call it the DAMN grant — Dane Arts Materials Need — but the county said, ‘We don’t like that,’” Fraire says with a laugh.