top of page

Dane Arts and StartingBlock Madison continue to foster intersections between entrepreneurship & arts

Araceli Esparza

Marisol Gonzalez Rodriguez

StartingBlock Madison announces the addition of two new Artists in Residence, Araceli Esparza and Marisol González Rodríguez. Artists in Residence receive access to the StartingBlock Madison coworking space and resources, and StartingBlock members have access to office hours from the artists. 

Araceli Esparza is a Chicana Poeta from the heartland. MFA graduate from Hamline University, with strong migrant farmer roots, she recently co-edited a poetry anthology with Flying Ketchup Press, The Very Edge Poems, and was a part of the statewide anthology Hope Is The Thing: Wisconsinites on Perseverance in a Pandemic published by the Wisconsin Historical Society. She was also named Wisconsin’s Most Influential Latina in 2018. 

Her work has been published in over 10 anthologies and several journals forthcoming Journal of Latina Critical Feminism. Araceli founded and runs the podcast Midwest Mujeres, is a speaker and helps to build bridges to donors and audiences to create a positive impact on marginalized communities.

Marisol Gonzalez Rodriguez is a writer, poet, storyteller, Spanish tutor, and entrepreneur. She immigrated from Mexico City to achieve the American Dream. In 2017, Marisol graduated from the UW Odyssey Project where she found her passion and her purpose. She writes short stories about her life as an immigrant and diverse children’s books.

StartingBlock is eager to grow its partnership with Dane Arts to support local artists and to give their members access to new resources, expertise, and experiences that foster creative thinking and business growth.

“Entrepreneurs and artists have more in common than meets the eye,” says StartingBlock Executive Director, Nora Roughen-Schmidt.

“That’s why we are so purposeful in creating opportunities for collaboration within the art and entrepreneurial ecosystems. Offering a space where entrepreneurs can feel inspired to let their creative juices flow can only improve their ability to solve problems. Artists can also learn how to grow their artform into a sustainable and thriving business,” Roughen-Schmidt adds.

Mark Fraire, Executive Director of Dane Arts states, “Thank you to the Evjue Foundation for partially supporting Dane Arts’ Artist in Residence project with StartingBlock Madison. Dane Arts continues to work to provide independent working artists professional opportunities to further strengthen their careers on the business of art and the art of business.”

About StartingBlock Madison

StartingBlock Madison’s 50,000 square-foot entrepreneurial hub occupies the second, third, and fourth floors of the American Family Spark Building, providing a collaborative community for Madison area startups and entrepreneurs. StartingBlock’s mission is to put Madison on the national map for entrepreneurship and innovation by creating the intersections that cultivate entrepreneurs, accelerate growth and drive innovation. StartingBlock offers low-cost, flexible leases, programming, education, mentorship, benefits, and access to a network of entrepreneurs. Learn more at

About Dane Arts

Through Dane County Arts and Cultural Affairs – Dane Arts- the Commission is committed to making Dane County stronger by supporting citizens, groups, and organizations that preserve our shared heritage, and create arts and cultural opportunities for residents and visitors. Current projects and programs include: a successful grant program, the Dane Arts Mural Arts project, the Dane Arts Buy Local Night Market, Dane Arts Dance Arts, the new Dane Arts Gallery located in the City-County building, and the annual art posters and art calendars that showcase Dane County’s cultural and historical life, supporting the dynamic local creative sector, and nurturing community collaborations. Dane Arts is leading the effort in showing the economic impact and community power of the arts; in education, community engagement, and cultural inclusion. Dane Arts continuously strives to support artists and arts organizations county-wide.


bottom of page