Creative Downtown Appleton Receives Eighth Annual Award for Placemaking Initiatives

Published Monday, October 17, 2016

Arts Wisconsin and the League of Wisconsin Municipalities are honoring Creative Downtown Appleton Inc. as one of two recipients of the eighth annual Arts in the Community Awards for spearheading projects that helped to transform Downtown Appleton through placemaking activities and public art.

The announcement highlights community advocate Josh Dukelow, who chairs the Creative Downtown Appleton Committee, and City of Appleton Public Works Director Paula Vandehey for their leadership on the strong public-private partnership that has helped implement a variety of impactful projects. The award also is being presented to Alan Nugent, business and cultural tourism leader and a founder of the Widespot Performing Arts Center in Stockholm.

Creative Downtown Appleton is a non-profit division of Appleton Downtown, Inc., and is designed to enrich Downtown Appleton’s urban design, public spaces, accessibility and walkability. Creative Downtown Appleton also is intended to create a diverse, inclusive and more livable Downtown, and engage the arts and culture in all aspects of community placemaking.

The awards will be presented at the League’s annual conference in Stevens Point on Thursday, October 20. The recipients also will participate in a conference panel discussion on the arts, creative economy and creative placemaking in Wisconsin.

“The Arts in the Community Awards are a wonderful way to celebrate the visionary leadership in and for the arts and creativity in Wisconsin’s communities,” says Arts Wisconsin Board President Christopher Naumann.

Among the sponsors of the award program is Heid Music of Appleton, Green Bay, Madison, Oshkosh and Wisconsin Rapids.

In nominating the non-profit organization, Renee Torzala, director of Community Partnerships for Appleton Downtown Inc. (ADI), noted that in 2014 the ADI Board made a strong commitment to Appleton’s creative economy movement by forming the new 501 (c) (3) organization, which is overseen by ADI and a steering committee made up of local creative professionals.

“The projects we are engaged in include the development of a public art plan, annual art installations, improvement of Downtown gathering spaces, support for pop-up art galleries and exhibits, Art on the Town gallery walk events as well as a new holiday event,” Torzala wrote in the nomination.

“Creative Downtown Appleton supports the belief that the arts are an integral part of a healthy culture, economy and community. Public art connects people to a sense of place and can create a strong indentity and competitive edge that helps attract young talent, as well as visiting populations.”

Writing in support of the nomination, Appleton Mayor Tim Hanna said, “Appleton is in the midst of a shift to a creative economy unlike we’ve ever seen in my 20 years as Mayor. The building of one of the finest performing arts centers in the Midwest was the first step in this shift, but it is the people behind the creative shift that are driving the change.”

Hanna singled out Vandehey for her willingness to help bring public arts projects to fruition in collaboration with other community leaders and non-profits.

City Council member Joe Martin, who has served on the Creative Downtown Appleton Committee since its inception, applauded Dukelow and Vandehey for their vision and leadership, saying, “Having a vibrant vision is where a good idea begins, but making that vision become a reality requires leadership, cooperation, persistence, and ability to inspire. Josh, Paula, and the entire team at Creative Downtown Appleton have demonstrated this with the countless projects that they have spearheaded in the past 2 ½ years.”

For more information on Creative Downtown Appleton and projects that enhance the creative placemaking efforts underway here, contact Jennifer Stephany, Executive Director for Creative Downtown Appleton and ADI, by emailing her at, or call 920-954-9112. For more information about the arts in Wisconsin and Arts Wisconsin, contact Anne Katz, Arts Wisconsin Executive Director, at 608 255 8316 | |

About Appleton Downtown Inc. (ADI) ADI is a non-profit advocacy source for the businesses and merchants of Downtown Appleton, dedicated to an economically strong, safe, attractive and exciting downtown. For more information about Creative Downtown Appleton and ADI and/or a complete listing of upcoming Downtown happenings, visit ADI’s website,, or check them out on Facebook at Appleton Downtown or on Twitter @dwtnappleton.

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