Between January 12 and January 20, 2015, the Arizona Commission on the Arts invested $115,000 in 16 arts-based ventures through the second year of its fast-pitch grant program, Arizona Art Tank.

Fast-Pitch for Seed Funding

At regional events held in four Arizona cities, artists and nonprofit arts organizations were given 6 minutes each to pitch an innovative project or program to a live audience and a panel of experts. The presentations that received the highest scores from the panelists at each event were awarded between $5,000 and $10,000 in seed funding.

Juliana Brutsche of AZ Culture and Jodi Filardo of Town of Clarkdale received the top award at the Northern regional event.

“Art Tank was a success in so many ways,” said Robert Booker, Executive Director of the Arizona Commission on the Arts. “Organizations and artists imagined new entrepreneurial ventures that required them to move beyond the status quo into a realm of risk and creativity.Ā  This leap of faith by our arts leaders has allowed us to support projects that reach into every corner and community of our state and serve Arizonans in new and exciting ways.”

For a complete list of grant recipients and additional details about the regional Arizona Art Tank events, click here.


Arizona Art Tank review panels were composed of Governor-appointed Arts Commissioners, elected officials, business leaders and arts professionals from each region. An additional $1,000 grant, the APS Innovation Award furnished by event sponsor Arizona Public Service Co., was awarded to the presentation which received the most votes from the audience.

Reimagining Public Funding for the Arts

A diverse panel of distinguished Southern Arizona residents watches a pitch at the Southern regional event.Drawing inspiration from the world of entrepreneurial start-ups and venture capital, the ā€œfast-pitchā€ event represents a dramatic departure from the 48 year-old state agencyā€™s standard method for awarding grants to artists and arts organizations.

In a traditional grant process, applicants are represented only by their written applications and relevant work samples. Arizona Art Tank allows artists and arts organizations a rare opportunity to pitch their proposals directly to the review panel and invites the public to witness and actively participate in the process.

An Uncertain Future

State Senator Steve Farley at Arizona Art Tank: South in 2014.

Art Tank was made possible due to bipartisan legislative action, sparked and championed by Senator Steve Farley of District 28. This action successfully allocated an additional $1 million derived from interest accrued on the stateā€™s rainy day fund to the Arts Commissionā€™s grantmaking budget for each of the last two fiscal years. Though this additional allocation provided for the creation of Arizona Art Tank and significantly bolstered the Commissionā€™s existing grant programs without affecting the stateā€™s overall bottom line, it was not included in the executive budget released on January 16, 2015.

Arizona Art Tank: 2015 Grant Recipients

The location, panelists and grantees for each event are as follows:

Arizona Art Tank: Eastern Region

January 12, 2015


Chandler Center for the Arts, Chandler, AZ


  • Senator Bob Worsley, Arizona State Senator, District 25
  • Tamalyn Lewis, Governor-appointed Commissioner, Arizona Commission on the Arts
  • Tammy McLeod, Vice President of Resource Management, APS
  • Terry Benelli, Executive Director, Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) Phoenix
  • Sarah Cochran, Associate Director and Curator, Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art
  • Royce Manuel, Artist and Educator, Founder of Morningstar Leaders Foundation
  • Baron Gordon, Artist and Entrepreneur, Principal at Smart Guy Marketing
  • Michael Soto, Communications Associate, Miller Russell Associates

Grant Recipients:

IMG_8855$5,000:Ā ProMusica Arizona will present The Unpredictable Adventures of Henry Hicklebee, an event that combines classical music, cell phone-based voting, and ā€œthe choose your own adventureā€ concept from childrenā€™s literature to provide an innovative concert experience for both people new to classical music and concert aficionados.

IMG_8852$6,000: The Bridge Initiative will provide a platform to unite and promote female theatre artists,culminating in a symposium in June at which scholars, teachers, students, and professionals will have opportunities to interact, network, and develop mentoring relationships through classes, rehearsals, and seminars and internships.

IMG_8858$8,000: Essential Theatre will develop a multi-tiered arts-based job training program for homeless young adults. Forming their own ensemble, working in the form known as Playback Theatre and presenting performances to other homeless young adults, participants will build job skills that will support them as they transition out of homelessness and into self-sufficiency and independence.

IMG_8848$10,000: Childsplay, a professional theatre for young audiences company, will create a series of programming that allows families with children on the autism spectrum to participate in meaningful theatre experiences at a variety of levels and entrance points.

$1,000 APS Innovation Award (chosen by audience vote): Childsplay

Arizona Art Tank: Southern Region

January 13, 2015


Star Studios, Bisbee, AZ


  • Vicky Boyce, Governor-appointed Commissioner, Arizona Commission on the Arts
  • Richard Rosales, Community Affairs Manager, APS
  • Ryan J. Bruce, Station Director, Radio Bisbee
  • Mel Dominguez, Visual Artist
  • Mignonne Hollis, Executive Director, Sierra Vista Economic Development Foundation
  • J.C. Mutchler, Borderlands/Southwest Faculty, University of Arizona
  • Katie Perry, Grants Manager, Tucson Museum of Art
  • Alfred Urbina, Community Leader and Chief Prosecutor, Pascua Yaqui Tribe

Grant Recipients:

AT-40$5,000:Ā Tucson Symphony Orchestra (TSO) will develop an innovative program whereby they will commission, present and license new classical music works by emerging composers. Collecting royalties when the commission is performed by other orchestras, TSO will strategically reinvest these dividends to fund the commissioning of new works by emerging composers in the future.

AT-76$6,000: Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum will collaborate with the University of Arizona Poetry Center to develop an ā€œinterpretative, playful, ruminative and interactiveā€ social media experience centered around Ms. Marple, the museumā€™s poetic ringtail mascot. The interactive nature of the creation of her poems will open new educational and writing opportunities to ASDM visitors and students.

AT-52$8,000: Arts Expressā€™ Building careACTOR Program, provided in partnership with the Arizona Schools for the Deaf and Blind (ASDB), will unite deaf or blind students with students that can see and hear to perform in a full-length musical production, creating a rich environment for personal growth and community building.

AT-71$10,000: Bisbee artist Gretchen Baer received funding for Paint Your Town!, a ā€œmobile, roadside art happening for young peopleā€ in Cochise County. The project will begin as an outdoor painting experience, grow into a countywide art exhibition, then return to the towns it was created in as a traveling art show.

$1,000 APS Innovation Award (chosen by audience vote): Gretchen Baer

Arizona Art Tank: Northern Region

January 15, 2015


Coconino Center for the Arts, Flagstaff, AZ


  • Representative Bob Thorpe, Arizona State Representative, District 6
  • Janet Dean, Community Affairs Manager, Northeast Division, APS
  • William Eaton, Musician and Director of Old Town Center for the Arts
  • Coral Evans, Executive Director of Sunnyside Neighborhood Association, Vice Mayor of Flagstaff
  • Porangui McGrew, Musician and Performing Artist
  • Bahe Whitethorn, Visual Artist
  • Kris Williams, Owner, The Gallery in Williams
  • Annette Zinky, Executive Director, Northern Arizona Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology

Grant Recipients:

web__BTY6969$5,000*:Ā Sedona Arts Center will partner with the Sedona Historical Society, Red Rock High School (Sedona) and Mingus Union High School (Cottonwood) to train five inter-generational teams to create Digital Storytelling packages about Sedonaā€™s movie-making history.

web_A36A5976$5,000*: Canyon Movement Company will provide a ā€œchoreographersā€™ challengeā€ for teens and young adults, mentoring them and engaging them in community and social issues through dance.

web_A36A6162$8,000: Prescott College Art Gallery at Sam Hill Warehouse received funding to establish a Sam Hill Fellows Program. The program will develop fellows training opportunities, including weekendā€long retreats occurring twice per year, focused on fellows training as well as emerging topics and trends for artists and arts organizations.

web_A36A6055$10,000: AZ Culture andĀ theĀ Town of Clarkdale will join forces to present Verde Valley Open Air Cinema, a series of family friendly, outdoor film screenings and live entertainment.

$1,000 APS Innovation Award (chosen by audience vote): Sedona Arts Center

* Sedona Arts Center and Canyon Movement Company tied for third place.

Arizona Art Tank: Western Region

January 20, 2015


Peoria Center for the Performing Arts (TheaterWorks), Peoria, AZ


  • Representative Debbie Lesko, Arizona State Representative, District 9
  • State Senator Steve Farley, Arizona State Senator, District 28
  • Dr. Pamela Hall, Governor-appointed Commissioner, Arizona Commission on the Arts
  • Michael Vargas, Government Affairs Representative, APS
  • Norma Cunningham, Artist and Business Owner, Commissioner for Goodyear Arts and Culture
  • Jacob Meders, Visual Artist
  • Damian Jim, Owner, 1Spot Gallery
  • Tara Sharpe, Director of Arts, Media, Community and Culture, Clarendon Hotel and Producer of ARTELPHX
  • Jorge Torres, Owner, Palabra Pop-Up Gallery
  • Xanthia Walker, Artistic Director, Rising Youth Theatre

Grant Recipients:

AT_West_Rag$5,000:Ā The Rag Collection will develop Street Voice, an internship program led by local mural artists, to create a focused mentorship process for under-served, at-risk youth interested in Street Art so they can connect with and empower community engagement and public art in their neighborhood.

AT_West_Deaf$6,000: Inspired by Understanding Deaf Culture: In search of Deafhood and The Vagina Monologues, Arizona Association of the Deaf will produce The Deafhood Monologues, an episodic play of Deaf experiences, chronicles and reflections delivered through poetry, stories, and presentations in American Sign Language.

AT_West_Teatro$8,000: Teatro Bravo will produce The Carpa Plays, a touring series of original theatrical performances, telling stories of the Latino experience in and out of AZ. The focus of this venture is to bring theatre to the Latino families in the surrounding areas of Phoenix who may not otherwise be able to experience theatre in its conventional form.

AT_West_Orange$10,000: Orange Theatre will establish a Phoenix-Ā­based laboratory for digital artists and performers to experiment and prototype new, cuttingĀ­-edge technologies and expand the boundaries of what is possible in the performing arts. This longĀ­-term residency will bring professional digital/media artists and performers to their downtown Phoenix warehouse performance facility to collaborate on the development of interactive systems for the stage.

$1,000 APS Innovation Award (chosen by audience vote): Arizona Association of the Deaf

Photos by Matt Beaty (, Alonso Parra ( and David Rose (