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UW–Madison Division of the Arts Name Artivism Student Action Program Spring 2023 Recipients

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, May 4, 2023

Contact: Kate Lochner, UW–Madison Division of the Arts Marketing and Communications Manager, 


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UW–Madison Division of the Arts Name Artivism Student Action Program Spring 2023 Recipients

Madison, Wis. – The Division of the Arts is thrilled to announce the Spring 2023 Artivism Student Action Program (ASAP) funding recipients. Founded in 2021 and available to UW–Madison students in any year or major of study, ASAP supports projects or collective actions that use the arts as a force for social change.

“ASAP is a vital resource to students, now more than ever. Out of necessity, our students of color are creating spaces where new futures and future leaders are shaped – a space where they establish new roots, a space where they belong.” says Chris Walker, Division of the Arts Director. “Belonging goes beyond inclusion to mean that individuals feel grounded, valued and involved in shaping their communities, as well as empowered to express their needs and receive care. There is something magical about knowing that you are participating in shaping a future that is going to be better for those who come after you.” He continues, “ASAP plays just a small part in removing barriers to event and programming facilitation, and addressing the unique needs of this generation of students.”

Projects received a total of $4,000 in funding in the spring semester, including: a community-building arts performance celebrating underrepresented communities on campus; two literary publications; and a creative writing workshop series for youth in local juvenile detention centers. A total of $12,200 was awarded through ASAP during the 2022-23 academic year.

“The Artivism Student Action Program review committee and I look forward to seeing the positive impacts of ASAP recipients’ collective hard work and dedication as we continue to foster arts engagement and activism on campus,” said Nicholas Santas, a 2023 Master of Arts – Business in Creative Enterprise Leadership student and Division of the Arts Graduate Assistant. 

Please join the Division of the Arts in congratulating the third cohort of ASAP award recipients. The following funded projects exemplify the breadth and creativity of art and activism that ASAP continues to support.

Formless: An Artivism Concert” | Madelyn Vilker in partnership with the Social Justice Hub and Wisconsin Union Directorate Performing Arts Committee

Now in its second year, “Formless” exemplifies the intersections of art and activism by supporting underrepresented identities and giving them a space to perform. The March 2023 showcase included spoken word, dancers, musicians, designers and artists of other mediums to foster community-building through art.

“Let It Burn” | Diya Abbas

In collaboration with the Madison Public Library’s Teen Bubbler Program, this project presents a series of writing workshops for middle and high school students in local juvenile detention centers, using creative writing and poetry as a therapeutic tool they can carry with them throughout their lives. 

“Madison Journal of Literary Criticism, Spring 2023 edition” | Ria Dhingra for Madison Journal of Literary Criticism 

The theme of this issue of the “Madison Journal of Literary Criticism” is “Renaissance.” As an abolitionist effort, the publication aims to inspire and encourage readers to use art as the creative basis to reimagine and re-invent institutions of harm.

“The Issue 002” | Robyn George for The Issue

“The Issue,”a student-run organization and publication on the UW–Madison campus covering style, arts, culture and current events, presents their second issue, “Land Acknowledgement,” in collaboration with a number of Indigenous student artists and student organizations to advance more inclusive, diverse, equitable and accessible community practices on campus.

The 2022-23 ASAP funding is made possible by the generous support of the Evjue Foundation, the charitable arm of “The Capital Times” newspaper. For more information on the program, email or visit


Photo by Richard Hurd

Study confirms Overture Center’s significant impact on the local economy

Madison, Wis. (May 3, 2023) — An economic and fiscal impact analysis by the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater Fiscal and Economic Research Center (FERC) reports Overture Center for the Arts contributed $34,480,000 to the Madison economy during its 2021/22 season, September 2021 through June 2022. Overture engaged in the economic impact study to establish a post-pandemic baseline for its activities.

“The analysis provides a baseline for us coming out of the pandemic,” said Chief Development and Communications Officer Emily Gruenewald. “Prior to our 18-month closure, Overture provided nearly 700,000 artistic experiences annually. In our first season open post-pandemic, Overture ramped up operations over a 9-month period, resulting in 288,150 artistic experiences. We felt it was important to conduct an economic survey during this limited season to track the recovery of the arts industry over the next few years. The last time Overture conducted an economic impact study was back in 2010, and it found the center contributed $28.1 million to the Madison economy. It’s encouraging to see that even in this reduced season Overture’s economic impact has grown to support our community. As we continue to reintroduce more programming in the 2022/23 season, we are seeing stronger attendance and participation, resulting in an even larger economic impact going forward.”

Overture Center’s economic impact comprises four categories of direct spending and the impact of each category. The direct spending comes from the cost of producing and running shows and events, the cost of maintenance and renovations, and ancillary purchases made by Madison tourists. The money that was directly spent in these four categories was then re-spent in multiple subsequent rounds. These subsequent rounds of spending are categorized as “indirect” spending. The sum of the direct and indirect rounds of spending is what constitutes Overture Center’s full economic impact on the Madison economy.

The direct spending was divided up into four distinct categories:

  • Broadway: $2.52 million
  • Resident Events: $2.50 million
  • Non-Resident and Local Events: $680,000
  • Operations: $28.80 million

“The importance of Overture Center to the economic health, vibrancy and overall vitality of downtown Madison cannot be overstated,” said Jason Ilstrup, Downtown Madison Inc. “Nearly every day, Overture Center welcomes thousands of guests to entertain, enlighten and wow, helping create an energy, spirit and sense of community downtown. Overture Center is at the heart of a successful downtown Madison now and into the future.”

Additional highlights from the 2021/22 study include:

  • Ancillary spending by Overture Center visitors totaled $6,300,000.
  • Nearly 53% of attendees were people who live outside the Madison area.
  • Ninety-three percent of attendees from outside of Dane County said that attending a show/event at Overture Center was a “very important” factor in their decision to come to Madison.
  • Overture Center visitors rented around 7,000 total hotel rooms and their annual hotel spending exceeds $1,000,000.
  • Overture Center operations and events also resulted in visitor spending of $4.6 million at local restaurants, primarily located in downtown Madison.

Photo by Richard Hurd

Foundation for Black Women’s Wellness: Dane County Health Council and Partners Celebrate First Anniversary of ConnectRx Wisconsin

Contact: Lisa Adams, 608-206-5628,

Dane County Health Council and Partners Celebrate First Anniversary of ConnectRx Wisconsin
Saving Our Babies Initiative Showing Promising Impact on Improving birth outcomes for Black women and birthing people in Dane County

MADISON, Wis. – The Dane County Health Council (DCHC) and the Foundation for Black Women’s Wellness (FFBWW) are celebrating the one year anniversary of the ConnectRx Wisconsin program, a central component of the Saving Our Babies Initiative and its strategies to improve Black birth outcomes in Dane County.  

The Saving Our Babies Initiative coalesced in 2018 as a result of the Dane County Health Council and partners joining forces in response to a 2017 community health needs assessment confirming that maternal and child health is one of Dane County and Wisconsin’s most pressing and persistent health concerns. Recent reports indicate that Dane County continues to have one of the worst Black infant mortality rates in the United States, accompanied by significant racial disparities in household income and a growing life expectancy gap between Black and white women. As documented in the Saving Our Babies Report, at the root of these disparities is the stress caused by economic insecurity, racism and bias in the daily experiences of Black women and their families, and disconnected and difficult to navigate community services.

Launched in April 2022 by the DCHC, FFBWW and partners, ConnectRx Wisconsin is a care coordination system designed to address these challenges at their root. The aim of the program is to reduce low birth weights for babies born to Black mothers by meeting the clinical and non-clinical needs of expectant mothers and their families. ConnectRx Wisconsin specifically supports Black pregnant women and birthing persons through a wrap-around service delivery model that connects both clinical and trusted non-clinical community providers who work together to support patients’ health, social, economic, mental health, and other resource needs. A clinic and community-based workforce of Community Health Workers (CHWs) and Doulas provides additional assistance to highest risk patients, ensuring they are supported throughout their pregnancy and postpartum.

All Black pregnant women and birthing persons served by local hospitals and clinics are screened for social determinants of health. If a patient screens positive in one of the following social determinants of health—financial resource strain, food insecurity, housing stability, stress, or transportation—and they consent, a referral is made to ConnectRx Wisconsin. In addition, through the electronic health record, a curated list of resources pulled from United Way of Dane County’s 211 is provided to the patient.

Since its launch, more than 400 Black women have been screened and referred to ConnectRx Wisconsin, connected to a vast network of community-based partner agencies and programs providing family-stabilizing resources and services. With an estimate of roughly 600 births by Black mothers or birthing persons each year in Dane County, these referral numbers clearly show the need and uptake. Early results also indicate that Black women patients participating in ConnectRx Wisconsin are experiencing fewer C-sections, more full term births, and higher infant birth weights as a result of doula assisted births and deeper partnerships between clinical providers, patients and the community workforce that make up the wrap-around service model.

“We are encouraged by the early indicators of improvement we are seeing in the birthing experiences among Black women participating in ConnectRx,” said Kyle Nondorf, President of SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital in Madison and one of the DCHC partner organizations.  “Though we have much more to learn from our formal evaluation efforts, we are seeing evidence that our efforts are translating into a new standard of care for Black women and birthing people.”

Nondorf and others contribute these early signs of success to the unprecedented collaboration that the Saving Our Babies Initiative has enabled across its many partners to align priorities, share leadership, and to co-design community-informed solutions. The initiative continues to grow community capacity to address Black birth disparities by building and bridging critical clinical and community infrastructure for a unique and integrated care coordination approach. 

In the community, ConnectRx Wisconsin participants are supported by FFBWW, which manages the initiative’s doula provider network and provides additional out-of-clinic CHW support. The Black Maternal Child Health Alliance (BMCHA) sits on the Health Council, informing the effort and providing broad leadership and advocacy locally and statewide. An additional network of trusted community based organizations and service providers are embedded in ConnectRx Wisconsin’s wrap-around support, accepting referrals to assist patients with housing, mental health, transportation, employment, and other critical family-stabilizing needs. 

“What we’ve known all along and are demonstrating in these efforts is that viable, systemic solutions for Black women and communities must be co-built and co-led by Black women and communities,” said Lisa Peyton-Caire, CEO and President of the Foundation for Black Women’s Wellness. “We’re showing that innovation and real change in disrupting stagnant health and birth disparities emerge when systems listen to, partner with, and invest in community capacity. It works.”  

Peyton-Caire and Annette Miller, president of EQT By Design, a co-partner on the project, say that ConnectRx Wisconsin is leveraging partner strengths and paving the way for Dane County to become a ‘center of excellence’ for Black Maternal and Child Health. Black women and families are being centered in the work. Health systems are embedding deeper training and education for its leadership and staff to improve care delivery to Black women and birthing persons. Community-based organizations are connecting patients to local resources in tandem with CHW’s and Doulas. The collaboration between health systems and community partners is bridging previously disconnected systems, forming a safety net for those most impacted by inequitable health outcomes in the Dane County community. 

“To see our collective efforts materialize this way in concert with Black women and community is confirmation that partnership is the answer,” said Renee Moe, President and CEO of the United Way of Dane County which has been a member of the Dane County Health Council for more than 20 years. “We are demonstrating the power of collaboration and collective impact in helping solve one of our community’s greatest and most pervasive challenges.”

As their work continues, the DCHC and partners understand the urgency of sustaining efforts for the long haul. Post pandemic data show that COVID-19 was likely a key driver of the more than 60% increase in deaths from pregnancy from 2019 to 2021. Black women and birthing people continue to face the biggest threats and now experience the highest mortality rates in recent memory; 69.9 deaths per 100,000 live births.

“The pandemic has and likely will continue to disproportionately impact Black birthing people and their families,” said Dr. Tiffany Green, co-chair of the Black Maternal and Child Health Alliance of Dane County and associate professor of Population Health Sciences and Obstetrics & Gynecology at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. 

Green, a health economist and nationally recognized expert on reproductive health equity, says continuing to center Black women, birthing people and babies is critical to mitigating the effects of COVID-19 on pregnancy- and birth-related outcomes. “This is not the time to drop our guard. Healthcare systems and providers must continue to protect the most vulnerable by holding themselves accountable to the communities they serve,” she said.  

Ariel Robbins, Project Director for the Dane County Health Council, says initiative partners are encouraged by the positive early impacts that the Saving Our Babies Initiative and ConnectRx Wisconsin are yielding, but that there is much more to do to strengthen the work and to ensure its sustainability for the long haul. 

“We’re committed to doing our part to eliminate racial birth disparities in our community, but it will take a collective effort from all sectors and corners of our community to make it happen. The problem wasn’t created in a day, and it will not be solved tomorrow. But with the support and investment of everyone and every sector – from business, philanthropy, to economic development, housing, and policy –  we have a fighting chance to save our babies.” –

The Dane County Health Council is a coalition of healthcare providers, government and nonprofits with a mission to eliminate gaps and barriers to optimal health and reduce disparities in health outcomes in Dane County. Council members include Access Community Health Centers, Black Maternal and Child Health Alliance, Group Health Cooperative of South Central Wisconsin, Madison Metropolitan School District, Public Health Madison & Dane County, SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital, United Way of Dane County, UnityPoint Health – Meriter and UW Health.

Photo by Richard Hurd

Riley Construction Breaks Ground on Likewise Partners Project in Madison

New industrial development has immediate leasing opportunities

Riley Construction is building Phase 1 of the Tradesmen Commerce Park in collaboration with Likewise Partners and The Ackerberg Group. Located at 5525 Tradesmen Drive, Madison, WI, the 131,000 square-foot, class A industrial building will include highlights such as 32’ clear height, 16 loading docks, state-of-the-art sprinkler system, unit heaters, high-bay LED light fixtures, and ample car and trailer parking stalls. Tradesmen Commerce Park is conveniently accessible from the Stoughton Road exit of the Beltline Highway.

Riley recently broke ground on this project and pre-cast panel erection is complete with steel and roofing work to follow. Phase 2 of the park is anticipated to start in early 2024 and will incorporate an additional 150,000 square foot building.

This project brings much needed industrial space to the Madison area due to historically low vacancy rates. The projected completion for the project is July 2023. The development team is currently accepting lease proposals from prospective tenants. For additional leasing information contact Chase Brieman or James West at the CBRE real estate office in Madison.

For more information on Riley Construction visit or call Riley’s Project Development Manager, Alex Egan at 414-405-5713.

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About Riley Construction

One of the largest construction management and general construction firms in Wisconsin and Illinois, Riley Construction is headquartered in Kenosha, WI, with four offices strategically located throughout the region. The company provides services in the municipal, industrial/manufacturing, healthcare, corporate/commercial, education, and pharmaceutical markets. Projects include new, expansion, renovation and restoration for a variety of building types. The firm’s core values of Humility, Integrity, Flexibility, and Initiative (HIFI) have led to a strong reputation and an 80% repeat customer base.

Photo by Richard Hurd

SuiteDynamics COO Ben Sherman on Making an Impact as One of the Country’s Top NetSuite Solution Companies

Before joining this company, Ben Sherman made a career of streamlining and expanding businesses. Now, he plans to establish SuiteDynamics as the #1 source for honest and experienced NetSuite consultants.

More than anything else, Ben Sherman has life experience.

He was born in Sweden and spent much of his early life in Israel. He pursued higher education in the USA and Sweden. He speaks four languages (three fluently). And he has started or led multiple companies in a career that has spanned over 20 years. Now, he plans to use that varied background to help SuiteDynamics impact the ERP consulting industry.

As a co-owner and the new COO, Ben aims to streamline business operations and help cement SuiteDynamics’ place as one of the top NetSuite solution companies.

“I’ve always just been interested in improving the organizations I’ve been with, coming up with new business and marketing strategies,” he says. “Perhaps that just comes from growing up in an entrepreneurial, innovative culture. And I feel like I bring that innovation and entrepreneurship to every role.”

And Ben believes he’s working with plenty of potential at SuiteDynamics. He describes the business as a group of fresh-faced tech experts and NetSuite consultants driven to see their company thrive.

“They’re a super talented group of individuals who are loyal to the company and passionate about supporting our customer base,” he says. “They go out of their way to help customers when they’re having specific issues or about to go live. They’re new and flexible, adapting to whatever a situation requires.”

He also feels strongly that those qualities can do more than perform efficient ERP implementations, customizations, consultations, and training. Instead, they can change how clients see NetSuite solution providers and help them view implementers as long-term business partners instead of one-time service providers.

Making an Impact as NetSuite Consultants

After building businesses for over two decades, Ben has become fascinated with a company’s potential to impact society. So, in 2003, he established Outfit Ltd. This Jerusalem-based tech company employed staff and served clients from Israel and Palestine. He wanted to see if business could bring cultural enemies together.

“I quickly realized that I was able to build more genuine relationships between the two sides of the conflict through a company on a local business, grassroots level than perhaps I would have been able to do through political efforts,” he explains.

That experiment constituted Ben’s first foray into the business world. Since then, he has undertaken various leadership roles to help shape other companies into efficient teams. Along the way, he has also looked for more opportunities to make a difference through business.

For example, he helped a friend start a pizzeria and bakery in a small Panamanian village. The enterprise gave locals fresh opportunities to earn income and learn new skills. One worker, Ben says, even put his wife through college using his bakery income.

This endeavor showed Ben that business is about more than making money. It’s about improving life for employees, clients, and society. Now, he can prove this idea with SuiteDynamics and help shape a new type of NetSuite consultant.

Ranking Among the Top NetSuite Solution Companies

Ben has been interested in SuiteDynamics ever since CEO Jake Kleiner explained the company mission—to become one of the top NetSuite solution companies through the simple concepts of integrity and transparency. As COO, Ben wants to help establish an honest, hard-working NetSuite solution provider in a field where many clients feel disappointed with service.

And as a bonus, he can help several businesses grow at once.

“There is a massive demand for NetSuite implementation and NetSuite consultants in multiple industries and insufficient skilled resources to fill the need,” Ben says. “Industries have a critical need today for a single modern platform to manage their operations. And they need a true partner with the expertise to help them customize and implement an ERP platform.”

He plans for that partner to be SuiteDynamics.

To start, Ben will focus on shepherding the company through its current season of growth and scaling operations to continue meeting client needs. He has helped multiple businesses expand in the past and plans to use the same principles to guide SuiteDynamics. He also enjoys mentoring leaders and building teams, helping them identify and bolster their strengths.

And he expects to guide the company through many exciting developments in the next five to ten years.

“I believe that SuiteDynamics can not only become a leader within the ERP consultation space but can also build advanced products that support organizations,” he says. “I’m excited to be a part of solutions in the coming months and years.”

As his staff, we’re excited about that, too.

SuiteDynamics is one of the top NetSuite solution companies specializing in custom ERP implementations. Our experts can help your company determine what kind of system you want and customize a NetSuite ERP program to meet your needs. Contact us to schedule a free demo.