The leadership of Sauk Prairie understands that through art, creativity and talent are nurtured, resulting in a quality workforce and community. One of Wisconsin’s most prolific writers and editors, August Derleth (1909-1971), made his home in Sauk City. Derleth wrote historical novels of Wisconsin, poetry collections, horror and fantasy novels and much more. The community is proud to boast his residency and today showcases many other artists and their art forms.
A community referendum passed in 1998 that led to the construction of the River Arts Center, a 500-seat theatre and gallery space. The River Arts Center hosts many school and community functions. The Sauk Prairie School District is committed to arts education and supports a strong music and art program within the district. The Sauk Prairie Music Association (SPMA) started as a parent group in 1979 known as the Band Boosters. It has evolved through the years to a nonprofit, charitable and educational organization, which provides assistance and funding for the maintenance of the music program at Sauk Prairie High School. This association supports all classroom and co-curricular music activities, which include: Concert Band and Choir Programs, Marching Band, Musicals, Madrigal Dinners, as well as Executive Session and YTBN Show Choirs.
Responsible for raising a portion of the capital for River Arts Center, River Arts Inc. (RAI) incorporated and began the journey of inspiring, enriching and educating the Sauk Prairie community about the arts. Since 1998, RAI has raised more than $1.7 million for the Sauk Prairie community. Each year, RAI partners with the Sauk Prairie School District to offer arts education programs. In addition, RAI offers a performing artist series and gallery exhibits in River Arts Center from October-May of each year.
Showcasing local artists is a priority for River Arts Center—the facility was built with the support of local citizens. In January of each year, the Wisconsin Regional Art Program (WRAP), founded in 1940 by UW-Madison, encourages Wisconsin residents to develop their artistic skills and showcase their work in a positive exhibit opportunity. With 23 WRAP exhibits throughout the state, River Arts Center is proud to support this project and showcase the work of our River Valley artists. In addition to local artists, River Arts Inc. has also been instrumental in bringing in national touring exhibits from the Smithsonian Institute and artists from across the country.
With 20 years of commitment to performing arts, the Sauk Prairie Theatre Guild produces two to three plays each year at the River Arts Center. One of the yearly plays is focused on youth in the Sauk Prairie community, while the second play each year showcases adult talent.