For the winners of the second annual Forward Art Prize, the money — $10,000 with no strings attached — is definitely important.

That cash will allow the winning artists to upgrade their studios, invest in tools like cameras and computers, purchase equipment for printmaking and buy a post-pandemic plane ticket to Oaxaca for a research trip.

Yet Forward Art Prizes, given each year to Dane County artists who identify as women, are about much more than funds.

“They’re creating visibility,” said Angelica Contreras, one of the 2020 Forward Art Prize winners. “Visibility is the first step toward equity….They’re creating meaningful impact in the community with this prize. They’re creating space for women creators, and that’s very valuable.”

The Forward Art Prize is administered by the Women Artists Forward Fund (WAFF). Both winners of the Forward Art Prize in 2020 are Latina artists, practicing professionals who both moved to Madison within the last four or five years.

Contreras makes mixed media collages and currently has a show at Latino Arts, Inc. in Milwaukee. The other winner, Adriana Barrios, earned a master’s of fine arts at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2019. She is a printmaker and graphic artist who recently settled into a near east side studio.