For Immediate Release
January 12, 2018

Contact: Steve Wilcox
[email protected]

Arizona Commission on the Arts Announces New Arts Learning Manager

On January 12, 2018, the Arizona Commission on the Arts, an agency of the State of Arizona, announced the hiring of Elisa Lucía Radcliffe to the position of Arts Learning Manager. Radcliffe will take on duties previously assigned to Alexandra Nelson (who was promoted to the position of Deputy Director in October), including the management of the agency’s landmark AZ Creative Aging initiative.

“It is with gratitude and excitement that we announce the engagement of Elisa Lucía Radcliffe as the Arts Commission’s next Arts Learning Manager,” said Jaime Dempsey, Executive Director of the Arts Commission. “Elisa brings to the work an invaluable combination of professional experience as a practitioner, educator, scholar, and leader of collaborative programs.”

Elisa Radcliffe

A New Mexico native, Elisa Radcliffe earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in dance performance from Arizona State University and has been a prominent member of the Phoenix dance community in the years since.

Prior to accepting their new position with the Arizona Commission on the Arts, Radcliffe worked as a dance educator for twelve years in the Phoenix Union High School District, one of the largest urban high school districts in the country. There, Radcliffe reports, they witnessed firsthand how important access to quality creative and cultural activities are for students.

“I have a strong belief that dance and art can and should be grounded in the community it serves,” expressed Radcliffe. “I am excited about joining the Arizona Commission on the Arts as the Arts Learning Manager.”

Lifelong Arts Learning

The Arts Learning Manager position guides the Arts Commission’s efforts to promote lifelong learning in, through, and about the arts. A central component of the 51 year-old agency’s mission to imagine and Arizona where everyone can participate in and experience the arts, Arts Learning comprises a range of activities and practices across the aging spectrum. Among their local, regional, and national peer organizations, the Arizona Commission on the Arts is recognized as a leader in the field of support for arts learning.

“Cultivation and expansion of arts education programs has been a priority pillar of the Arts Commission’s mission since the agency was established five decades ago,” said Dempsey. “Under Elisa’s thoughtful leadership, we are eager to discover how Arts Learning services will continue to evolve and grow in collaboration with diverse Arizona stakeholders.”

In addition to awarding grants in support of collaborative arts learning-focused projects and partnerships, the agency provides funding and services in support of Arizona’s teaching artists and co-produces the state’s biennial Joint Arts Education Conference with the Arizona Department of Education.

In 2010, the Arts Commission partnered with the Arizona Department of Education to commission research on access to high-quality arts education in Arizona public schools and follow-up research in 2014. Reports and resources based on this research can be found at This research informed the development of the Strengthening Schools Through Arts Partnerships (SSTAP) grant program, which provided funding support and program evaluation support to partnerships between nonprofit arts organizations and low-performing “D” level schools aimed at strengthening teaching and learning in arts education and/or arts integration.

In 2015, the Arts Commission secured a $225,000 grant from Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust to implement AZ Creative Aging, an ambitious three-year initiative designed to develop an infrastructure in the state to support the generation and proliferation of programs that enhance quality of life for older Arizonans through arts learning and creative expression. Since launching, the program has engaged local and national experts in the field in an expansive effort to train teaching artists, support the development of high-quality arts programs for older adults, and embed creative aging knowledge and best practices in organizations and institutions that work with older adults. The program is now widely recognized as a model for building field infrastructure via multisector investment.

About the Arizona Commission on the Arts

One of 56 state and jurisdictional arts agencies across the United States, the Arizona Commission on the Arts is a 51-year-old agency of the State of Arizona and a leading force in the creative and professional development of Arizona’s arts sector. Through robust programs, research initiatives, and strategic grantmaking, the Arts Commission catalyzes arts-based partnerships that strengthen Arizona communities through the arts.

We imagine an Arizona where everyone can participate in and experience the arts.

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For more information on the Arizona Commission on the Arts, visit or contact Steve Wilcox, Communications Director, Arizona Commission on the Arts, at (602) 771-6536 or [email protected].

To request this or any other agency publication in an alternative format, contact the Arts Commission offices at (602) 771-6502.

Images available upon request.