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CoPA's History and Mission

The Coalition of Photographic Arts, Inc., was founded in 2004 by a group of Milwaukee area photographers interested in developing an appreciation for fine art photography.

Known as CoPA, the organization adopted this statement:
The mission of the Coalition of Photographic Arts is to develop appreciation, promote growth and support the creation of photographic arts in the Greater Milwaukee Region.

Its goal is to cultivate awareness of contemporary photography through educational programs, lectures, panel discussions and exhibitions. CoPA fosters connections within the photographic community by means of monthly member meetings and yearly exhibitions.

CoPA is directed by a member-elected board. Our membership includes artists, students, professionals, amateurs, enthusiasts, and collectors. CoPA has grown rapidly in recent years, and today has nearly 200 members. During CoPA's history, the organization has had five presidents: Sonja Thomsen, who was among the founders, who was succeeded by Robb Quinn. Bob Israel was elected in 2011 and Vice President Geri Laehn finished his term when Israel moved from Milwaukee. In 2012, Angela Morgan was elected as CoPA President, and Kelly Crandall finished out her term after Angela's career suddenly took off.

CoPA events include:

Annual Members Exhibition |  Over 100 artists exhibited in our most recent show with more than 2,000 people attending.

Annual Midwest Juried Exhibition | This show is open to artists from Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan and Minnesota. The free, public exhibit is juried by an internationally recognized professional. In recent years, this show has been hosted by the Walker's Point Center for the Arts in Milwaukee.

Fall Lecture Series | CoPA invites internationally recognized photographers to Milwaukee to give lectures on contemporary photography. Lectures and receptions are open to the public.

– Portfolio Reviews | CoPA offers reviews of members’ photography portfolios by Wisconsin curators, gallery owners, arts professionals and educators.

– Monthly Schmoozes | Programming for the monthly Schmooze (the name we’ve given to our regular monthly member get-together) includes featured speakers, panel discussions, presentations of members’ work, and more.

CoPA also gives its members exposure to the arts community, such as the Milwaukee Artists Marketplace at the Milwaukee Art Museum, CoPA's Annual Anniversary Pin-up Show featuring its members' affordable art for sale, and educational workshops. Our website also offers members the opportunity to showcase their work in personally organized galleries.

Members pay annual dues. Additional funds needed to support the organization’s mission come from various fee-based activities, and sponsorships by photography-related companies and community partners. CoPA is tax exempt from Federal income tax under Section 501 (c) (3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Contributions to CoPA are deductible.