Tag Archives: art grants

Ode to the Arizoni Awards

The Homestead Playhouse gang gathers after the 2011 Arizoni Awards youth ceremony (Photo by David Martinez)

While others sat glued to “Dancing with the Stars,” I enjoyed a festive evening with Arizona “theater folk” — attending Monday night’s Arizoni Awards at Tempe Center for the Arts. It’s actually two ceremonies, one for youth and another for adults.

This allows younger actors to finish homework and make their bedtimes. It also lets the hosts turn loose a little bit with off-color humor and language during the second half of the evening.

The 21st annual Arizoni Awards — formally known at the Arizoni Theatre Awards of Excellence — featured “dream hosts” Yolanda London, Robert Kolby Harper and Kurtis Overby. All looked fetching in their white sequin gowns and mostly-blue evening attire (Overby, sporting a red tie, didn’t get that memo.)

A few fashion trends of note: purple shirts for the gentlemen and long blue gowns for the ladies. My “best dressed” picks include Eric Chapman, president of the executive board for the Arizoni Awards, who rocked a black and white jacket with a jumbo check pattern and red lining.

Also Rebecca Hammer, one of four presenter assistants for the youth ceremony, who wasn’t afraid to share with me in the lobby that her royal blue gown with tasteful silver trim at the waist was a “My Michelle” from JC Penney.

Two shoe trends of note — flip flips and gladiator sandles. I’m not sure which is worse. Footwear that looks like a glittering granola bar or shoes that appear they could easily double as a weapon. (This from a woman who thinks black Fossil flats qualify as evening wear.)

The youth ceremony included performances by Greasepaint Youtheatre (“Bare Necessities” from “Disney’s The Jungle Book”), DFT Gecko Teatro (“Biggest Blame Fool” from “Seussical, Jr.”) and Actor’s Youth Theatre (“One Day More” from “Les Miserables School Edition”). Think lots of animal print and red, white and blue.

A gathering of Actor's Youth Theatre after the Arizoni Awards youth ceremony

It’s impossible, it seems, to curb excessive displays of enthusiasm during such ceremonies — but many of the grown-ups I chatted with were genuinely concerned it might takes days to regain full use of their throbbing eardrums. Maybe we should all try a little harder to emulate the calm of the Tony Awards we all hope to see our children participate in one day.

Director Chanel Branham (in blue) with Arizoni Award nominees Cambrian James (L), Andrea Martinez and David Vigari (R) (Photo by David Martinez)

Director Chanel Branham (in blue) with Arizoni Award nominees Cambrian James (L), Andrea Martinez and David Vigari (R) (Photo by David Martinez)

Results of the 2011 Arizoni Awards should be posted online once folks recover from the after-party, which landed a corporate sponsor for the first time this year. Thanks to the Arizona Ford Dealers Association — and a wag of the finger to those of you still driving Chevys to auditions and rehearsals.

If you followed the Arizoni Awards on Twitter last night, you’ve already got the scoop on big winners — which included Childsplay’s “The Borrowers.” Audience members seemed especially delighted when young actress Sara Matin was honored for her portrayal of Helen Keller in Desert Stages Theatre’s production of “The Miracle Worker.”

Alaina Beauloye, Jimmy Shoffman and the cast of Desert Stages’ “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” performed “Love is My Legs” during the adult ceremony. And Fountain Hills Community Theater performed “Along Came Bialy” from “The Producers” — complete with well-endowed grannies rocking tap-dancing walkers.

But the most applause went to Dion Johnson and D. Scott Withers, who performed “Timeless to Me” from the Phoenix Theatre production of “Hairspray” that resulted in awards for both Withers and Phoenix Theatre. Withers, who somehow made time to serve as director for this year’s Arizoni Awards, was teary- eyed as he accepted the award. Waterproof mascara is such a blessing.

Alex Slocum, Camille Gibbons, Jason Washburn, Brenda Goodenberger, Jennell Angel, Sydnie Greger and Victoria Fricker at the Arizoni Awards

Folks who offered thank yous chose the usual suspects — parents, children, fellow theater folk and volunteers. One thanked the ‘moms and dads set construction union,’ another the siblings ‘who never get jealous,’ and another the make-up artist who bestowed a full head of hair. Two thanked God for their ‘amazing talent.’ (God knows it’s there, no need to share.)

Four students received Arizoni Award scholarships during the youth ceremony — all ASU students, one in a doctoral program. The Virginia G. Piper Trust was honored during the adult cermony for its ongoing and outstanding support of Arizona arts and culture.

Chuck Disney, Linda Ferington, Patrick Moyse, Alexander Blilie and Ross Collins of Fountain Hills Community Theater (Photo by Patty Torrilhon)

Before leaving for the evening, I handed my business card to several folks gathered for impromptu picture-taking. I’ll update this post as their handiwork rolls in (and more gems from the ceremonies come to mind).

Congratulations to every Arizoni Award nominee and winner. You make it fun to sit atop the fifth wall.

— Lynn

Note: Visit the Arizoni Awards online at www.arizoniawards.com. If you have photos of last night’s ceremony to share, feel free to send them my way at rakstagemom@gmail.com. A selection will be featured in an updated version of this post.

Coming up: Conversations with Arizoni Award winners, Shopping takes center stage, Musical instrument photo opp, For the love of Lilly!


GRAMMY Foundation honors Arizona school

When tickets went on sale recently for two year-end “Showcase” performances by Arizona School for the Arts, I was first in line to get mine — for both May 31 and June 1 at the Orpheum Theatre in downtown Phoenix.

Arizona School for the Arts is a Phoenix charter school for grades 5-12 that prides itself on coupling rigorous academics with conservatory level performing arts training in music, theater and dance.

My daughter Lizabeth is in the senior class, and will be performing both evenings with fellow students in the theater department. When last I heard, the ASA Glee/Show Choir (with select Jazz Band members) was scheduled to open the May 31 performance with a song from the Broadway musical “American Idiot.”

She’s especially thrilled having seen “American Idiot” with her dad just a few months ago at the St. James Theater in NYC.

Other ASA groups performing Tuesday evening include Advanced Guitar, Ballet Corps Intensive, Chamber Singers, High School Piano Team, Intermediate Dance, Jazz Band Combos, Wind Ensemble and more.

Students from ASA perform during their 2010 Showcase

Turns out that the ASA music department will be enjoying a rather special honor that evening — as a representative from the GRAMMY Foundation presents ASA one of its 2011 GRAMMY Signature Schools Enterprise Awards.

Laura Apperson, ASA arts director and professional musician, notes that ASA is the first and only school in Arizona ever to receive the prestigious award. The application process, says Apperson, included submitting extensive written materials and recordings of music performance by ASA students.

Resonation Multimedia helped ASA prepare the CD submitted to the GRAMMY Foundation — which included performances by the following groups: Chamber Singers, Orchestra, Sinfonia, Wind Ensemble, Percussion Ensemble, Jazz Band, Guitar Ensemble and Piano Quartet.

The GRAMMY Foundation reports that each of the 27 schools receiving the Enterprise Award this year will receive a $5,500 grant. Apperson is thrilled that the funds will help ASA invest in mixers, mics and other recording equipment for use in classroom and performance settings.

Several ASA music groups are performing during Wednesday’s “Showcase” at the Orpheum Theatre — including 5th and 6th Grade Choirs, Men’s Choirs, Percussion Ensemble, the Showcase Orchestra and more. Additional June 1 performance groups include Ballet Foundations I & II, Intro to Dance, Theatre and more.

Students from ASA perform during their 2010 Showcase

I have to admit that when I first learned of ASA’s GRAMMY Foundation award, I thought for a second that they’d received a GRAMMY Award for vocal performance.

Last time I heard one of ASA’s advanced choral ensembles perform, under the direction of Craig Westendorf, it brought tears to my eyes. I’m convinced that it was one of the best choral performances I’ve ever experienced — anywhere. But alas, they won’t let me give those Grammy puppies out on the spot.

I hope you’ll join me for ASA Showcase 2011 on May 31 and/or June 1. I’ll be the one in the lobby humming the little ditty by Green Day.

— Lynn

Note: Click here to learn about the work of this “Excelling” (from the Arizona Department of Education) and “Blue Ribbon” (from the U.S. Department of Education) school.

Coming up: SMoCA young@art gallery welcomes new exhibit, What’s new in Shakespeare?, Art meets the Arizona State Capitol, Charmed (literally) by Childsplay

Photos courtesy of Arizona School for the Arts

Art news you can use

Jennifer Campbell piece from Artlink Heritage Square Gallery

If you’re a parent, you’re an arts educator. And a literacy specialist. And a P.E. coach. And a math tutor. And more.

So how can you stay abreast of arts news and opportunities that may impact your child’s arts experiences inside and outside of the classroom?

Check out the online newsletter from the arts learning department at the Arizona Commission on the Arts–which simply and succinctly shares news of interest to both parents and professional arts educators.

Art can get overlooked in the classroom for many reasons. Sometimes teachers don’t understand the intrinsic value of arts or its benefits to enhancing skill and understanding in other academic subjects.

Christine Mesiti work from Artlink Heritage Square Gallery

Sometimes teachers feel intimidated by the arts. Often they simply don’t have the resources of time or money to invest in arts-related activities.

A well-informed and genuinely interested parent can prove an invaluable support for teachers who have the will, but not the way, to foster student arts experiences. And the arts learning newsletter is a great way to stay informed.

Here’s just a brief sampling of the ideas and opportunities noted in the latest issue…

Tara Logsdon work from Artlink Heritage Square Gallery

Arts learning programs

Poetry Out Loud is a national poetry recitation contest open to all Arizona students in grades 9-12. Participating teachers receive free materials and participating students are eligible for scholarship opportunities. Schools can register on or after Aug 16.

Arts learning professional development

Mary Jenae Sanchez work from Artlink Heritage Square Gallery

The 21st Century Skills Map provides teachers with educator-created examples of how to fuse a broad range of arts (dance, music, theater, visual and media arts) with other areas to promote student knowledge and skills essential to the 21st century workforce.

Arts advocacy

Initial legislation passed at the sub-committee level on July 15 approved level funding ($40 million) for the U.S. Department of Arts in Education (part of the U.S. Department of Education).

Angelica Jubran-Bishara work from Artlink Heritage Square Gallery

Also in July, the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation designating the second week of September as “Arts in Education Week“–which is the first Congressional expression of support for all disciplines comprising arts education.

Funding opportunities

Online letter of inquiry applications to the MAP Fund–which provides project-specific funds to playwrights, choreographers, directors, performers and composers experimenting in any performance tradition or discipline–will be available starting Sept 15.

Jennifer Campbell work from Artlink Heritage Square Gallery

The letter of intent deadline for the Surdna Arts Teachers Fellowship program, a national initiative to revitalize outstanding art teachers, is Nov 12. Eligibility guidelines allow arts teachers working in specialized public arts high schools and arts-focused magnet and charter schools to apply.

Art exhibit opportunities

The Artlink Heritage Square Gallery is seeking a wide variety of visual media from high school students across the country to display in their first ever group show in November. Submission deadline is Sept 3.

Christine Messiti work from Artlink Heritage Square Gallery

The statewide Faces of Afterschool art project is seeking self-portraits for possible exhibition at the Children’s Museum of Phoenix as part of national Lights Out Afterschool. Deadline is Aug 30.

These are just a few of the tidbits I found in the latest online newsletter of the arts learning department at the Arizona Commission on the Arts.

It also features information on arts-related research and reports, arts-related conferences, exhibition opportunities for student-related outreach programs and more–with links you can follow to learn more or get involved. Click here to read it yourself.

Jennifer Campbell work from Artlink Heritage Square Gallery

Special thanks to Mandy Buscas, Arts Learning Director, and Alex Nelson, Arts Learning Coordinator, for helping us all stay up to date on the latest and greatest arts learning news in Arizona.

And thanks to all you parents who support your local arts teachers with gifts of time, talent, information and advocacy. Together we’re assuring that America keeps art in its heart.


Note: Artwork photos are from the Artlink Heritage Gallery WordPress blog at www.artlinkhsgallery.wordpress.com. Click here to subscribe to the arts learning newsletter and/or other publications from the Arizona Commission on the Arts.

Coming up: Where art meets civics, Valley theaters launch seasons with exciting show selections, Arizona performers dance their way to the Radio City Rockettes, Finding fall arts classes

The fine art of grant writing

Do you ever stop to wonder what makes those puppet shows, piano concerts and painting exhibits you’re so very fond of possible?

Often it’s funding from a foundation, government agency or other organization that invests in the arts. If you’ve never stopped to thank them, this might be the time to start.

When times are tough, it becomes harder for both individuals and organizations to give. Yet tough economic times are when arts organizations most need support, financial and otherwise.

So what to do if you’re an arts organization seeking funds, yet aren’t fortunate enough to have a grant writer on staff? There’s plenty you can do on your own—both to plan for the grant writing process, and to actually write grant proposals.

Of course, your friendly freelance grant writers always appreciate a call. But you’ll be ahead of the game if you have a grant writing tool kit of sorts at the ready.

Many of the materials you’ll gather for any particular grant request may serve you well for future ‘asks.’ So keep them on hand, and be sure you have the following as well.

And yes, they should be fabulously filed and at the ready rather than strewn about in such a mess that you need days to uncover and gather them.

  • Your mission. A clear statement of what you do and why (short enough to share in a single spoken or written sentence). Some arts groups also have a vision statement that expands on their mission statement.
  • Your constituents. A precise statement of who you serve (include numbers, demographic characteristics, etc.).
  • Your partners. A comprehensive list of folks you collaborate with to achieve shared goals. Include prior, current and planned joint projects.
  • Your programs/services. A clear statement of your programs/services and the benefits of each for individuals, families, communities or others. Include information about how your work is unique.
  • Your outcomes. A thorough description of how your involvement has directly benefited your constituents—including the specific ways your work is changing individuals or groups that you serve. Include information about how you measure, track and report your results.
  • Your resources. A detailed statement of your financial, human and other resources. Track your income and expenses by category, but also by program—so you are prepared to ask for general operating funds or program-specific funds. Gather information on expertise and experience of board members and staff.
  • Your needs. A comprehensive description of what you need and why—and how securing each item will assist you in furthering your mission.
  • Your supporters. A thorough list of those who offer financial support, in-kind support or volunteer support (and the amounts contributed). Some grantors require that 100% of board members, staff and/or volunteers support the organization with financial gifts.
  • Your documentation. A complete collection of all those lovely papers grantors want to see—your articles of incorporation, your governance documents like posted board meeting agendas/officially recorded minutes, your most recent independent audits, etc.
  • Your strategic plan. A thorough description of goals that align with your mission, and specific measurable objectives for meeting each goal. Include information about where you expect to be in the process after one, three and five years.
  • Your business plan. A comprehensive outline of how you will achieve individual objectives, and the resources you will use/need to get there.
  • Your fans. A compelling record of the lives you have touched—to include thank you notes, photos (with needed permissions), testimonials, positive media coverage, etc.

While the above list doesn’t necessarily include everything you may be asked for (and you may not be asked for all these elements each time you apply), gathering these items now will put you way ahead of the game.

Keep all your information up to date and easily accessible so you’re ready to ‘turn on a dime’ when you hear of a grant opportunity with a looming deadline. Being prepared can turn the process of applying for grants from frustrating to fulfilling.

Also do your best to avoid these common mistakes (they happen more often than you might think)…

  • Don’t apply for funding if you’re not eligible. Read grant criteria thoroughly before preparing your grant application to be sure you meet all requirements.
  • Don’t proof your own work. Have someone else review your application materials after you’ve done so—with an eye to both spelling/grammar and content (whether every question is answered clearly and completely, whether all spelling and punctuation are correct, etc.).
  • Don’t procrastinate. Allow ample time for the physical preparation of your final document—making corrections, gathering needed signatures, making required copies—and getting it submitted in person, online or by mail. No one wants to lose a funding opportunity because of a fussy copier or computer.

If you’re eager to learn more, consider connecting with one or more of the following organizations that can help you network and collaborate with nonprofit peers, identify potential funding sources, increase your expertise and more.

  • ASU Lodestar Center for Philanthropy & Nonprofit Innovation. Offers capacity building initiatives, technical assistance, conferences/convenings, professional development education, academic degree programs and research. You can sign up to receive their twice monthly electronic newsletter (“Lodestar Center Nonprofit News”), which “shares information relevant and beneficial to those who lead, manage and support nonprofits.” Learn more at www.asu.edu/copp/nonprofit
  • Alliance of Arizona Nonprofits. Offers information, training and networking opportunities; represents the nonprofit sector at the Arizona legislature and other arenas; offers opportunities to participate in group-buying discounts; provides collective voice to the public on nonprofit-related issues. You can review their membership roster online—my brief tour of the list turned up the Phippen Art Museum in Prescott, the Phoenix Film Festival and the Phoenix Fringe Festival. Learn more at www.arizonanonprofits.org

Happy grant proposal writing! I look forward to enjoying all the fine art that grant funding will make possible for Valley arts organizations in the months and years to come. 


Note: When all else fails, consider the questions you expect good journalists to answer—who, how, what, where, when and why—then add one that’s essential to asking for money: how much.

Coming soon: Weekly Friday postings featuring family-friendly arts events (plays, musicals, concerts, art exhibits, dance performances, etc.) for the weekend. Feel free to drop me a line if your arts group has something coming up that might interest our readers–high school or community college theater productions, outdoor concerts for families, exhibits of child/teen artwork, master class opportunities for young performers, youth poetry slams, family-friendly film festivals, etc. As always, thanks for reading and thanks for sharing!