ArtWorking provides career-oriented support for artists with developmental disabilities. Artists are supported in ArtWorking's professional studio workspace, in addition to community and private settings. This may include an artist’s personal studio, public events, workshops, and sales opportunities. ArtWorking maintains its own Supported Self Employment Program, which offers a wide range of business specific supports to individuals with developmental and intellectual disabilities. As a result, we are able to provide a seamless transition from fostering artistic growth to developing a small business. ArtWorking actively seeks opportunities for artists and business owners to compete with their non-disabled peers in local and regional markets, as active participants in the mainstream art and business communities. ArtWorking currently works with over thirty individual artists and small businesses. ArtWorking’s staff has extensive experience in fine art, small business management, product development, benefits management, and human services.


Funding for Services
Most of the people that we work with use some form of long-term medicaid waiver funding to access and fund their time with ArtWorking. This includes support funding from IRIS or Family Care programs. In general, our services are employment-related, with most artists eventually choosing to pursue self-employment as a primary outcome. For many artists, this outcome may be deferred for several years while they develop their own individual process and style. To that end, some artists may begin their time at ArtWorking with non-employment related goals, but with the understanding that they will typically transition to employment related outcomes when the artist and their team feels it is appropriate.

If you are not sure if you can access IRIS or Family Care support funding, the Aging and Disability Resource Center (ADRC) will guide you through the screening and enrollment process. You can find out more about the ADRC at

Some artists may use short term funding for supports available from the Wisconsin Department or Workforce Development’s Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR). This funding is always short term, and usually only available during or immediately following the business planning process.

Individuals may elect to private pay for services if no other funding sources are available, but this is less common.

Intake Procedure
The intake process for prospective artists usually begins with a series of informal conversations or visits. Artists, families, advocates or social work providers all may initiate the process by approaching ArtWorking directly. After that, we usually meet with an artist or their representative(s) to determine what their goals and needs are, if ArtWorking feels like a good support match, and whether or not there is potential funding for services.

If all parties choose to move forward, studio visits may be scheduled to measure compatibility. Prospective artists will work in the studio 1-3 times over the course of a few weeks to determine if they like ArtWorking’s environment and feel they could gracefully become a part of the studio community. At the same time, prospective artists will usually confer with the ADRC, or their IRIS or Family Care representatives, to determine what level of funding they may be able to leverage for ArtWorking’s employment related services.

Intake, support implementation, and continuance of services are subject to the limitations of capacity. Capacity is defined as the space and resources available, as well as availability of staff sufficiently skilled in the support types needed for the artists.

Services & Supports
ArtWorking has the experience, expertise, and technical resources to provide a wide range of services and supports to our artist/entrepreneurs. We assist individuals with managing many aspects of their businesses. The most common supports include:

  • Support and adaptation for art making processes

  • Support with creative development of products, goods and/or services based on original art

  • Support through the startup phase of small business development

  • Support for ongoing small business management such as fiscal planning and maintenance

ArtWorking has a wide array of technical resources and maintains a baseline level of studio supplies for all artists to use. Materials available support art practices in drawing, painting, screen printing, ceramics, and polymer clay. We ask artists to purchase their own materials if their individual process or business plans cause them to use large volumes of paint, ink, clay, canvas, or other material, or if a material is desired beyond what we typically stock in the studio.

Person Centered Support
One of ArtWorking’s core values is supporting individuals in leveraging their own freedom and will. To that end, staff and volunteers prioritize taking direction from the artists rather than directing them. For this reason, communication and listening to the intentions of the artists, both in the moment and over the long term, are of central importance. Due to the variety of communication styles and capacities, ArtWorking’s staff works with patience and perseverance to develop strong communication with artists. We pride ourselves on taking time to build meaningful relationships with artists and their teams in order to best read each artist’s intent and desires.

Cafeteria Style Access to Services
Since ArtWorking has such a wide range of possible support strategies, it is impossible for any one supported artist or business owner to access every type of support offered. Most artists find it practical to identify a handful of core needs on an annual or semi annual basis, and will reevaluate support priorities as their employment goals evolve and expand. To that end, we will assist teams in setting priorities, allocating support resources,and developing support plans.