Tag Archives: arts in Arizona

Top ten signs you’re an arts advocate

Liz Trimble pauses to enjoy artwork during a college admissions tour

10. You attend arts advocacy events like the Arizona Arts Congress 2012 (taking place Feb. 7 — and yes, there’s still time to get involved).

9. You talk with education leaders (school board members, principals and others) about the importance of funding and supporting art in schools and classrooms.

8. You troll publications like Arizona Capitol Times looking for arts-related news and legislation (like a recent issue noting bills about renewing the Arizona Commission on the Arts and creating an Arizona Poet Laureate).

7. You attend diverse art-related exhibitions and events in your community — and choose art-related events for time with family and friends.

6. You support local arts venues and museums by doing your gift shopping in their gift shops (there’s still time to gather art-related Valentine’s Day fare).

5. You write letters to the editor sharing evidence for the role of arts in building strong communities, economies, schools and families.

4. You curl up at night with reports like “Capitalizing on Arizona’s Arts & Culture” (prepared in conjunction with the 98th Arizona Town Hall).

3. You enroll your children in arts-related programs that foster their love and familiarity with visual art, dance, film, music, poetry, theater and other art forms.

2. You donate money or time to at least one local arts organization (even small gifts of time, talent and financial resources are appreciated and make a difference).

1. You take time to thank legislators, businesses and others who support arts on a national, state and local level.

— Lynn

Note: To learn more about arts and culture in Arizona, visit www.azarts.gov and www.azcitizensforthearts.org.

Coming up: Moving beyond tragedy through a community art project


Arts in Education Week

During a recent episode of “Jeopardy,” the final question required knowledge of both children’s literature and opera. Think Milne’s “Winnie the Pooh” meets Gilbert and Sullivan’s “The Mikado.” Only one contestant seemed to know much about either — and he walked away with the cash. I’m guessing there’s an art teacher he ought to be thanking back home.

It’s been heartening to see arts and culture play such a pivotal role in 9/11 anniversary ceremonies. Sunday’s event at the newly opened 9/11 Memorial in NYC featured Yo-Yo Ma, the Brooklyn Youth Chorus, Emi Ferguson, Paul Simon and James Taylor. Opening remarks by Michael Bloomberg quoted Shakespeare, and poetry was prevalent throughout.

The Pushcart Players perform one of five school shows offered by Mesa Arts Center this season

Too often our nation forgets all that has been forged by arts and culture, and fails to appreciate the role they can play in moving us forward. So I’m delighted that Congress passed a bill last year designating the second week of September “National Arts in Education Week.”

For those who love the arts, no explanation of their impact or importance is needed. Art is an instinct, in impulse. An adventure of imagination as necessary as air. For others, they seem a mere nicety at best — perhaps because the joys of art never touched their lives as children.

But those unmoved by art’s aesthetic power should recognize its more tangible benefits. Art creates jobs. Creates cities where people want to live. Creates schools full of innovators and imaginators. Maybe even the “creative class” touted by a presidential candidate in his stump speeches.

Ninety percent of Arizonans believe that arts education is either important or very important, according to results of a public opinion poll conducted by ASU in May 2009 — a poll cited in the background report for this year’s Arizona Town Hall, the first of 98 Arizona Town Halls to focus on Arizona arts and culture. www.aztownhall.org.

The Arizona Arts Education section of the report was authored by Mandy Buscas (then director of arts learning for the Arizona Commission on the Arts, now the arts education outreach coordinator for Mesa Arts Center) and Lynn Tuttle (director of arts education for the Arizona Department of Education).

MAC presents Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters for grades K-6

Their work considers results of the 2009 Arts Education Census. It also looks at federal, state and local educational policies — noting that state support for arts in education has suffered significant losses of late due to “efforts to close significant stage budget shortfalls.”

Their reporting on the arts census notes that “20% of schools offered no courses in any arts discipline” and that “79% of schools spend less than $1 per year per student for arts instruction.” This despite the fact that U.S. employers rank creativity/innovation among the top five skills growing in importance.

So what can be done to move Arizona forward? A report issued after the Arizona Town Hall on arts and culture says that “Arizona residents need to speak up, stand for what we support, and make that support known at the ballot box at all levels, from the legislature, to the superintendent of public instruction, and to local school boards.”

It sounds rather daunting if you’re not accustomed to advocating for issues with local and stage officials, but there are plenty of resources to help you get started — including Arizona Citizens Action for the Arts. www.azcitizensforthearts.org.

The report also urges the arts and culture community to partner with the business community to “lobby for improved arts education” — and calls on nonprofit organizations and arts professionals in our communities to “continue augmenting arts education in the schools.” Think artist residencies, school field trips and such.

There’s plenty we can do as parents. Volunteer to help with art projects in the classroom. Coordinate field trips to places like libraries, performing arts venues, museums and exhibit spaces. Donate art-related supplies to local schools. Urge schools to integrate arts learning into other subjects. Vote art at every opportunity.

MAC presents Native American Song & Dance for grades K-12

Folks who separate art from the other disciplines, orchestrating false dichotomies that pit science and math against music and theater should learn more about artists like Emi Ferguson, a distinguished student of both music and epidemiology. Or scientists like Oliver Sacks.

To learn more about arts and education in Arizona, sign up for the free arts learning newsletter from the Arizona Commission on the Arts. www.azarts.gov.

The latest issue features details on the Poetry Out Loud program, a student art competition, an opportunity to participate in the Kennedy Center Partners in Education program, Target field trip grants, teacher workshops and more.

As for the “Jeopardy” answer that won the big bucks, it was “Pooh-bah.”

— Lynn

Note: Additional arts in education resources include the President’s Committee on Arts and Humanities (www.pcah.gov), Americans for the Arts (www.artsusa.org) and the Arts Education Partnership (www.aep-arts.org). Learn more about Mesa Arts Center arts education programs at www.mesaartscenter.com.

Coming up: Country music meets arts and culture, Art meets airport, Who let the cats out?, Shakespeare meets Sweeney Todd

2011 Governor’s Arts Awards

My children grew up experiencing the work of many of the artists nominated for this year’s Governor’s Arts Awards — Debra K. Stevens of Childsplay (Arts in Education/Individual), Arizona School for the Arts (Arts in Education/Organization), Bobb Cooper of Valley Youth Theatre (Individual) and more.

Award created by Christina Cardenas, Tucson, bisque painted ceramic

A total of 76 nominations, representing 22 Arizona cities and towns, were received for the 2011 awards — which are presented in six categories: Artist, Arts in Education (Individual), Arts in Education (Organization), Business, Community and Individual.

Winners are selected by an independent panel, and will be announced Tuesday evening during a special Oscar-style ceremony.

Each will receive an original work of art created by an Arizona artist (three are pictured here).

Award created by Jeff Reich, Mesa, stoneware vessel

The 30th annual Governor’s Arts Awards — presented by Arizona Citizens for the Arts, the Arizona Commission on the Arts and the Office of the Governor — takes place at the Herberger Theater Center April 12.

Festivities begin at 5:30pm with a silent auction, hors d’oeuvres and refreshments in the Herberger Theater Center lobby. The ceremony takes place at 7pm and will be followed by a dessert reception at 8pm.

Additional honorees include former State Senator Carolyn Allen and Bill Sheppard, attorney with Gammage and Burnham — who’ll receive the “The Shelley Award” for their impact on public policy benefiting the arts in Arizona. 

Award created by Kevin Matthew Stevens, Laveen, caliche

The award is named for Shelley Cohn, who served as executive director of the Arizona Commission on the Arts for more than 25 years.

Those interested in attending can visit www.governorsartsawards.org for event and ticket details.

If you miss the ceremony, you can visit www.azarts.gov or www.azcitizensforthearts.org after Tuesday for the names of 2011 award recipients (which will also be added as an update to this post).

Before you know it, planning for the 2012 Governor’s Arts Awards will be underway — so start thinking now about artists and arts supporters you might like to nominate, including youth who are making a difference in our communities through the arts.

— Lynn

Note: Eight, Arizona PBS will broadcast the 2011 Arizona Poetry Out Loud competition (held March 16) Tues, April 12 at 7:30pm and 11:30pm as well as Sun, April 24 at 5pm.

Coming up: New seasons from East Valley to West Valley

Update: Congratulations to all the 2011 Governor’s Arts Awards honorees — Martin Moreno (Artist), Tonto Community Concert Association (Arts Education-Organization), Free Arts for Abused Children of Arizona (Community), Carol Duval Whiteman (Individual), Ann Ludwig (Arts Education-Individual) and Cox Communications of Southern Arizona (Business).

Nominate a volunteer!

Feeling challenged by recent events to begin making more of a difference in the life of our collective community? Or inspired by the words and deeds of so many everyday heroes in the aftermath of the recent tragedy in Tucson?

Too often we wait to recognize the selfless acts of others, to fully appreciate their gifts to the community. But this week there’s an opportunity for each of us to act on our gratitude for those who serve the communities we love.

The Arizona Governor’s Commission on Service and Volunteerism has put out the call for nominations for the 10th annual Governor’s Volunteer Service Awards — but you need to act quickly to nominate a worthy volunteer.

Nominations are due by Sat, Jan 15 — but don’t let that discourage you. The nomination process is simple and straightforward, and you can submit a nomination online if that makes the process more convenient. Nomination forms are available at the Governor’s website. 

One award will be given in each of the following categories — youth, youth group, adult, adult group, service-learning practitioner, National Service member, small business, large business, non-profit and lifetime volunteer.

Nominees are judged by a panel of statewide judges, who select award recipients based on four criteria — need, action, innovation and impact. The nomination form walks you through each of these areas.

I nominated a fellow mental health advocate several years ago — and although she wasn’t selected, she received a lovely letter from then Governor Janet Napolitano recognizing her nomination and commending her service.

If your nominee doesn’t win, he or she can still enjoy the warm fuzzies that come with feeling appreciated.

You have plenty of options for how to get the darn thing completed in just another couple of days. You can do the form yourself or enlist the help of others (maybe assigning one person to answer each short question before you compile everyone’s work).

Or you can ask the person you’re nominating to complete a sort of draft of the form that will fill in the blanks with details you might not know. Then you have something to refer to as you’re getting all those ducks in a row.

If you’re lamenting having so little time to turn this nomination around, consider a simple trick that’ll make it easier the next time. Start gathering relevant information now about folks you might like to nominate for this, or another volunteer/service award, in the future.

Suprising folks is lovely — but when all else fails, just come right out and ask them for what you need. Maybe you don’t know all someone has done to earn a lifetime achievement award, but you’re certain that person is deserving. The most humble will need some nudging, but I doubt they’ll mind the interest.

If your specific interest is arts and culture, be sure and save the date for the 30th annual Governor’s Arts Award (2011 nominations have already closed). The awards ceremony takes place Tues, April 12, at the recently-renovated Herberger Theater Center in downtown Phoenix.

Remember too that nominations are being accepted through Mon, March 14, for the 2011 Hon Kachina Volunteer Awards, which recognize Arizona volunteers high-school age or above who volunteer in diverse areas from the arts and education to justice and social services.

Our days are comprised of small thoughts, words and deeds that together create the life we live and the impact we have on others.

Especially given all the American people experience together as we build, improve and sustain our democracy — it’s important to recognize those who serve our communities through generous gifts of time and talent. 

— Lynn

Note: Click here to learn about volunteer opportunities (including many that are “family-friendly”) available through HandsOn Greater Phoenix.

Coming up: Arizona celebrates MLK Day

What’s new with you?

Today friends and family gather to share happy, or even hard, times. I’m reminded of the importance of a single question: What’s new with you?

Asking the question is all good and fine, but listening the the answer is where true connection lies. So I’m pausing today to consider all that’s new and wonderful — and sometimes even not so wonderful — in our lives.

I’m also reflecting on “the new” within the Valley’s arts scene, which I find infinitely more exciting than a new sweater or pair of shoes.

Today I offer my heartfelt thanks to those of you who read my art-related musings, and am pleased to share some of the things I feel especially grateful for…

New artists. Those entering and nearing graduation from art school. Those who just reached the first audition, first exhibition or first gig milestone. Those who come from behind in years to carry us forward in ideas and action. • New teachers. Those who take time from their own creation and crafting of art to inspire, teach and empower our next generation of painters, dancers, musicians, actors and other artists. • New arts organizations. Those whose passion is untempered by economic pessimism or the brutal realism of naysayers. Especially those started by young artists. • New arts venues. Those who enhance the economic and cultural vitality of surrounding communities. • New audience members. Those who’ve recently discovered the joys of experiencing and applauding the work of Valley authors, singers, filmmakers and other artists. • New works. Those who create, present or support them.

And so I ask: “What’s new with you?”

Let me know what your organization is up to — whether it’s arts education, arts advocacy, arts performance or another form of furthering our shared arts and culture.

I’m eager to listen — and to share your stories with our readers.

— Lynn

Art adventures: Queen Creek

Part of the San Tan Historical Society Museum collection

My father has a rather interesting decorating style that reflects his small town upbringing in South Dakota farm country — and his years of buying and selling land in Colorado.

He has a fondness for farm implements and tools, which have adorned several walls and other spaces in his various homes through the years.

Big wheels keep on turnin' in Queen Creek

I can still picture the authentic wagon wheel suspended on a wall, the heavy black anvil sitting atop his cream-colored carpet and the assortment of rusty old parts he managed to display with a true measure of good taste.

I was reminded of his collection when I took my 21-year-old son Christopher on a bit of an art adventure last week. We went to Queen Creek, which is about an hour drive from our Scottsdale home.

With cooler weather, it's time for happy trails again

The weather has finally turned tolerable, and we’re making the most of it. I was lured to Queen Creek by the prospect of exploring the Queen Creek Performing Arts Center — and the nearby San Tan Historical Society Museum.

The museum is located at the southwest corner of Queen Creek and Ellsworth. During your visit, you’ll learn about Frank Lloyd Wright’s connection to the San Tan area, as well as how this community benefited from the German POWs.

The drive to Queen Creek reminded me of bygone field  trip days when I used to have the kids and their friends play “I-Spy” for sights along the streets and freeways.

We spied farm land, farm tools and farm animals

There were no video players in cars, or portable DVD players, back then. I consider it a good thing — because it gave us more time for observation and conversation.

Were Christopher younger, I’d have broken the drive into two smaller jaunts by stopping along the way to explore the airport and museum at Falcon Field in Mesa. (Were I younger, we wouldn’t have needed the pit stop at McDonald’s.)

We headed to the San Tan Historical Society Museum first, since it’s open just one morning during the week (plus Saturday). It’s a red brick building from the mid-1920s that’s listed on a national registry of historic buildings.

See if your kids can guess what once traveled through this chute...

Behind the museum sits a small yard with a half dozen or so pieces of weathered farm equipment once used in the area, which still sports impressive citrus groves.

It took me right back to those weekend visits with dad — and made me wish I’d packed a picnic basket to enjoy on the building’s short stack of steps.

Queen Creek High School is home to the mighty Bulldogs

Next we hit the the performing arts center, which is adjacent to Queen Creek High School — home of the mighty Bulldogs. A bronze bulldog statue sits atop the overhang you pass under to reach the school office.

I’m eager to return to the center to enjoy a live performance — and it looks like I’ll have plenty of options to choose from. They have a main theatre series, a family theatre series and a special events series.

Check out these performing arts offerings in Queen Creek

I have my eye on “Tap Kids,” billed as a “joyous celebration of youth culture” featuring “eight of the nation’s most talented tap dancers.” It’s coming up on Nov 6.

Emmy Award winner Robert Wuhl performs “Assume the Position” on Feb 5. I’m told it “delivers an imaginative, irreverent comedic history lesson” that includes a look at “facts, myths and myths-that-became-facts.”

I’m going to start warming up my smile muscles now.

“One Man Star Wars” hits Queen Creek on Oct 30 and contemporary country group “Gloriana” takes the stage Dec 3.

See "The Brothers Grimm: Out of Order" this weekend

This weekend you can enjoy one of two remaining performances of “The Brothers Grimm: Out of Order” — either Sat, Oct 23 at 2pm or Mon, Oct 25 at 7pm.

Upcoming family theatre productions include “Disney’s Alice in Wonderland Jr.” (Nov 20), “Unstoppable Me!” (Mar 12, 2011) and “Hairspray” (April 9, 2011).

When you head to Queen Creek to take in a show, consider making a day (or even weekend) of it. And tell the fine folks at Eddie Maroni’s pizza joint that we loved the lunch special.

Driving in and around Queen Creek, we spotted all sorts of fun sights — including cattle, horses and sheep. (Alas — my son has little patience for me stopping to photograph every cute animal that crosses my path.)

Being a bit of a sign fanatic, I also took note of the cardboard sign advertising “fresh organic milk” and the yellow diamond-shaped traffic sign with the cattle icon.

As we headed home for dinner, I was reminded of why I spent so much time on similar adventures when my three kids were younger. It was something Christopher said as we left Queen Creek…

“There’s a whole lot of world out there.”

— Lynn

Note: To suggest a Valley city for an upcoming “Art adventures” post, drop me a line at rakstagemom@gmail.com.

Coming up: Pirates meet opera, Once upon “The Wiz,” Stop the “Glee” bashing!

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