Organizations around Madison are collaborating on plans to develop a music and arts district in Madison that could attract visitors and add to the culture of the city.
Willy Wash, a grassroots group dedicated to redeveloping areas on the East side of the city with music in mind, is a driving force in developing a plan for music in the area.
Rick Tvedt, executive director of Madison Area Music Association, said in an email to The Badger Herald that the project is still in its beginning phases and it is too early to reveal a lot about it, but there has been discussion in Willy Wash meetings.
Tvedt said he has had an idea for a building on East Washington for more than 10 years. He said Willy Wash reformed recently after having been originally formed in 2009, and he got involved with the project because of his plans for the building.
“I can envision the East Washington corridor as a magnet for the arts, a district,” Tvedt said. “This is what all the best music cities have, is a conveniently centralized district.”
The basic premise of the group is that they would like to see music, arts and food be a main ingredient in the development of the area, Tvedt said.
Tvedt said the group is now assembling a team along with volunteers from the University of Wisconsin to explore the possibilities of the project.
“I’ve always been a proponent of Madison music having been a musician myself for a long time,” Tvedt said. “The ideas coming from the Willy Wash group, and other ideas that are in play, could bring dramatic change to the city in terms of music. The key to a successful music city is the participation of municipal powers.”
Tvedt said he recently joined the Madison Arts Commission and is interested in working toward solutions and innovations.
He said there is an opportunity in the area right now with the schools nearby and the proposed developments. He said he sees the project he is working on as a destination point that would draw visitors to the city.
Anne Katz, executive director at Arts Wisconsin, said she lives in the neighborhood and supports the idea of bringing in more arts. The plan has a lot of promise and there are a lot of people involved with good ideas and connections, she said.
Katz said the Willy Wash group has been meeting with several stakeholders including city alders and the mayor. She said they have a big picture now and are moving toward shaping more specific plans.
Arts Wisconsin is one of the groups advising Willy Wash, Katz said. They are currently working on the Creative Economy Development Initiative, a bill in the State Legislature that would fund creative economic development like the Willy Wash plan, she said.
More public art and music festivals in the area are some ways Katz said she would like to see an increase in arts in the area.
“What I’m most interested in is that these festivals continue and thrive. They’re free to attend but they’re not free to do,” Katz said. “I want to make sure that these wonderful community festivals continue and are free to the public. Willy Wash can help bring attention to and grow these events.”
Olivia Main contributed to this article.