The Robert E. Gard Foundation is committed to helping people and their communities discover the vital role the arts play in their day-to-day lives.

Explore the links to learn more about the Robert E. Gard Foundation and about the man himself.

Unlike most foundations, the Robert E. Gard Wisconsin Idea Foundation does not grant funds.

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Awards of Excellence (2014)

Award of Excellence goes to executive director of Springboard for the Arts, Laura Zabel.

Award of Excellence goes to executive director of the Tucson Pima Arts Council, Roberto Bedoya.

Continue to the Awards of Excellence page for the details.

Foundation Features & News:

In 2010, to mark the 100th birthday of Robert E. Gard, the Wisconsin Arts Board and the Gard Foundation co-sponsored a symposium based around Gard's ideas.

His writings include many themes. He believed that every human being has an important story to tell, one that can be powerfully told through writing, music, dance, or any art form. He believed that the arts can be catalysts for community growth and change, and in The Arts in the Small Community he has sections that we've informally called the "Arts And" pages - Arts & Business, Arts & Religion, Arts & Health, Arts & Ethnic Groups, and more. He was passionate about the power of place, believing that from a consciousness of place can spring powerful creative insight.

Board members capped the Symposium by identifying certain projects that they believed captured some of these ideas, or by participating in national conversations using Gard's perspectives.

Click on each of the pictures above to read the mini-project details

The mini-projects were:

  • Vice-President of the Gard Foundation, Jennifer Armstrong, participated in the national Rural Arts and Culture Working Group symposium
  • Vice-President Doug Borwick offered workshops based around Gard's ideas and his own writing, Building Communities, Not Audiences
  • Caroline Beadle and Gerard McKenna identified a youth theater group bringing live theater to youth in suburban Chicago - many of whom were seeing theater for the first time
  • Maryo Gard Ewell identified a young DJ/composer, Jackson Melnick, of Crested Butte Colorado, who sought to collect original "songs of place" and do interviews with the songwriters throughout Colorado, exploring the relationship of their songs to their homes
  • Mark Lefebvre identified a southeastern Wisconsin little league team to be bringers of Wisconsin poetry to their fans
  • Mitch Menchaca identified the Gay Men's Chorus in Washington, DC, whose outreach program offered support for creative youth
  • Barbara Strauss identified a theater group in Cleveland whose youth component wrote plays based on their own experience and toured them to Cleveland neighborhoods


Funding from the Wisconsin Arts Board made possible a symposium on community arts development and the arts.  Funding also made possible one-time mini-grants for activities or programs embodying  ideas discussed during the symposium, identified by board members.

This project was supported in part by a grant from the Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the National Endowment for the Arts.