Art meets Arizona Town Hall

Some pretty cool things happened during 1962 in the arts world…

Margot Fonteyn and Rudolph Nureyev first danced together — during a performance of “Giselle” with the Royal Ballet in London. Andy Warhol’s “Campbell’s Soup Cans” exhibit opened in L.A.

The Beatles released their first EMI single — “Love Me Do.” The play “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” opened on Broadway. And songwriter/rocker Jon Bon Jovi was born in New Jersey.

In Arizona, something called “Arizona Town Hall” was born. It’s an “independent, nonprofit membership organization that identifies critical issues facing Arizona, creates the forum for education and exploration of the topic and fosters leadership development.”

They’ve held nearly 100 “Arizona Town Hall” events since 1962, but this year’s event is their first to focus on Arizona arts and culture. You’d have a hard time convincing me that 97 other issues have been more important to our state through the years. Still, I’m thrilled that arts and culture finally made it to the top of their list.

The 98th “Arizona Town Hall” convenes this week (May 1-4) in Tucson, with approximately 150 Arizona citizens taking part. I recognized plenty of names when I checked out the list at www.www.aztownhall.org. Steve Martin of Childsplay. Dan Schay of Phoenix Theatre. Bill DeWalt of the Musical Instrument Museum.

You can hit the “Arizona Town Hall” website for a full list of folks taking part. The Arizona Commission on the Arts promises daily coverage of the event for those of us not fortunate enough to be there. And a final report will be issued with the groups’s findings, which will be available to the public online.

You can read this Arizona Town Hall Background Report online

I’m not keen on waiting for the final report, so I’ve been reading the “Arizona Town Hall” background report — put together in large measure by Arizona State University, with Betsy Fahlman serving as editor.

The curated report “combines the work of nearly 30 Arizona author-contributors, and 10 artists and poets.”

Its 236 pages include a comprehensive history of Arizona arts and culture that should be required reading for anyone who works or plays with the arts.

Specific chapters of the report address areas such as arts education, tourism and cultural heritage, historic preservation, public libraries, museums, parks and the performing arts. Also economic issues, urban revitalization, public art and more.

There’s even fun show and tell type stuff. Figures on the “creative industries in Arizona.” Tables on arts-related employment, state art budgets, federal arts funding and the ever-sexy “per capita spending on states arts agencies.” Graphs showing “availability of arts education” and “per-pupil arts spending.”

But what exactly will “Arizona Town Hall” participants be talking about in Tucson? I browsed a few of their discussion outlines, and found topics like these: What’s unique about Arizona arts and culture? How does the Arizona arts spectrum represent diverse populations?

They’ll also discuss the impact of Arizona arts and culture on our economy, education and quality of life. Plus the roles of private enterprise, private philanthropy, governments and other types of support for arts and culture.

When all is said and done, and their final report is issued, I’m guessing the impact — assuming we all own up to our own responsibilities for enhancing Arizona arts and culture — will make 2011 a year to rival 1962. Except, of course, for that whole Bon Jovi thing.

— Lynn

Coming up: Dance meets fashion, Celebrating “Book Week,” Put on your party clothes!

Update: Final recommendations from the 98th Arizona Town Hall are now available. Click here to see them. The 5/12/11 episode of “Horizon” on Eight, Arizona PBS focused on findings and recommendations from the 98th Arizona Town Hall. Click here to learn more about “Horizon” and the “Arizona ArtBeat” program.

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