Arizona Commission on the Arts, Arizona Community Foundation announce partnership

Additional investments in Arizona artists also announced

The Arizona Community Foundation (ACF) and the Arizona Commission on the Arts announced Sept. 19 a joint effort to support Arizona artists, including additional funding from the recently established Newton and Betty Rosenzweig Fund for the Arts, an endowment held at ACF.

The public-philanthropic partnership strategically pairs the Arizona Community Foundation’s resources and collaborative practices with the Arts Commission’s statewide reach and artist-services infrastructure to serve a common goal: to invest in artists, supporting the work they do as innovators and creative contributors to Arizona’s future.

Assessing Arizona’s arts-funding landscape, ACF and the Arts Commission determined there was a shortage of support for individual artists compared to other regions, which guided the focus for the new collaborative investments.

“Arizona is home to many artists who lead with creativity, resourcefulness and ingenuity. The Rosenzweig Fund has provided ACF with a great opportunity to encourage and support their work,” said Steve Seleznow, president and CEO of the Arizona Community Foundation. “This partnership also deepens our collaboration with the Arizona Commission on the Arts, given the strength of their artist programs and our shared values related to statewide support.” 

The funding will be accessible to Arizona artists through two grant programs administered by the Arizona Commission on the Arts: the established Artist Research and Development Grant and a new program to debut in early 2019.

The Artist Research and Development Grants provide up to $5,000 in funding support to Arizona artists. The grants are awarded through a competitive review process based on the strength of the artist’s vision and craft, the integrity and feasibility of their process, and the potential for impact on the artist’s own practice and on their community, as defined by the artist. Artists working in any discipline and at any stage in their careers are eligible to apply.

Thanks to ACF’s investment, the Arts Commission will double the average number of grants awarded annually through the program from 15 to 30. ACF is matching dollar for dollar the state funding allocated to the program.

“We are grateful for ACF’s partnership enabling us to steward monies from the Rosenzweig Fund,” Arts Commission Executive Director Jaime Dempsey said. “This partnership materialized as the Arts Commission is analyzing its services and resource distribution, asking ourselves in every case, is this process accessible? Is it equitable? Is it responsive to the people who live here?

“In examining artist grants data, we recognized that artists of color and artists living in rural communities were underrepresented in the applicant pool when compared to Arizona’s statewide demographics. With this in mind, we engaged in a major renovation of the Artist Research and Development Grant application and review process.”

To guide the renovation, the Arts Commission enlisted a neutral facilitator to conduct focus groups and interviews with artists of color, artists from rural communities, artists working in diverse creative disciplines, and former applicants to the program. All involved were compensated for the time they spent providing feedback and consulting on revisions, and those artists will remain as a part of an advisory cohort as changes are implemented.

Changes include a streamlined two-stage application process, fresh review criteria meant to honor a variety of artistic approaches and training, and the opportunity for applicants to describe proposals in writing or through video or audio recordings.

The revised grant launched Sept. 18 and applications will be accepted through Nov. 9, 2018. In-person information sessions, co-designed with artists, will be held in locations across the state and will be accessible for online/virtual participation.

In January 2019, with support from ACF and its Newton and Betty Rosenzweig Fund for the Arts, the Arts Commission will pilot a new grant program supporting Arizona artists’ capacity to work and thrive. Grants of up to $1,500 will be available to support artists’ ability to take advantage of specific entrepreneurial and career-development opportunities.

“This partnership between ACF and the Arts Commission makes good sense for the arts in Arizona. ACF wanted to encourage greater diversity and inclusion through listening, engagement, and process innovation, and the Arts Commission was proactively working on the same objectives,” Seleznow said. “Together, we aim to ensure that more Arizonans have access to arts and culture, and we believe this public-philanthropic partnership can enhance our state’s creative capacity for years to come.”

Arizona artists are invited to visit https://azarts.gov/ for updates and additional information.

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