A not-so-Artrageous Weekend

The biggest art event for the year in Wausau is not 100% canceled, but it is significantly scaled back
Published: Sep. 11, 2020 at 7:01 PM CDT
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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) - The weekend of Sept. 12, 2020, was supposed to be an explosive weekend of art in Wausau. Then, the pandemic hit. Now, Artrageous Weekend, typically the last large event in Wausau for the summer, is almost nonexistent, much like the numerous other summer events of 2020.

There will be no Art in the Park packing the Marathon County Park’s exhibition building with hundreds of people from all over; no art activities or lessons on the 400 Block; the more than 200 juried artists will not be taking over several blocks of 3rd Street downtown; and the world-renown events and activities that go along with the Birds In Art exhibition at the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum are canceled.

This is just one event, but it has been a trend for the art world and nearly every industry for the last six months.

“We’ve seen a 75% drop in income and then also people coming into our facility, having artists' artwork marketed out there for people to see. It’s a huge impact on our organization,” Kelly Price, the Center for Visual Arts executive director said.

The event would have brought in significant traffic and revenue for the community nonprofit, but again that has been the story all summer. Price said they have moved their gift shop online; they have galleries open with limited capacity and virtually; they hold smaller classes for kids and adults implementing social distancing practices in-person as well as some virtual, but it is not enough.

“Even our artists that work in our pottery studio on a consistent basis, they have had to tailor back significantly on the amount of artwork that they put out and they mostly sell in the region," she continued. "So, it’s been very hard for them to have their artwork out and to have it selling because people aren’t purchasing in person.”

Grants, which they apply for in a typical year, have been especially crucial now to get through the pandemic. Price said some grants now fund operational costs as well because of COVID-19′s impact instead of just projects, which has allowed them to keep the lights on.

Significantly scaling back a massive event, Nick Ockwig with the Wausau Central Wisconsin Convention & Visitors Bureau said impacts the whole area too. The loss events over the 2020 summer in general, he explained, means millions of dollars in lost revenue for the

“A lot of people come to town and spend a whole weekend of it with Artrageous Weekend,” he said. “With people visiting the different restaurants, you know, day-trippers filling up with gas, coming in town to shop. You know, all of the different juried artists down at the Art at the Park that would be staying in hotels as well creating room tax dollars, so economically, it’s definitely going to be missed.”

There are still some events taking place during this Artrageous Weekend this year. The Birds In Art exhibit at the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum debuts Sept. 12, but again no additional activities or events will take place. The CVA will have its gift shop and galleries open, including its “Creating A New Whole” exhibit, which will be open for its last weekend. Evolutions in Design will also hold its ArtFest XI event and sale.

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