What happens when artists are invited to contribute to community improvement efforts? This question is at the heart of a new podcast series. In AZ Creative Voices, producer Regina Revazova introduces listeners to eight teams working with artists to create solutions to complex community challenges. Along the way Revazova explores the challenges and successes of this creative partnership; the potential of community-engaged work; and the many discoveries as participants strengthened their collaborative skills.
All episodes are available to stream now at https://azarts.gov/azcci/ and on all major podcast platforms.
The series is a chronicle of work supported by the AZ Creative Communities Institute. In the spring of 2017, the Arizona Commission on the Arts and Arizona State University’s Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, with guidance from Southwest Folklife Alliance and support from the Surdna Foundation and the Arizona Community Foundation, issued a call for small teams representing Arizona cities, towns and neighborhoods to participate in the inaugural Arizona Creative Communities Institute (AZCCI).
Twenty-two teams applied; nine were selected, including teams from Yuma, Douglas, Flagstaff, and Phoenix’s historic Eastlake neighborhood. The teams, each composed of diverse members of the represented community, received intensive training, one-on-one mentorship and funding support as they explored the myriad ways creativity can be put to work for positive community impact. Team members were part of an active learning network, with opportunities to learn from and with local and national experts, as well as peers from other Arizona cities/towns and neighborhoods.
“This podcast series is a beautiful and fitting outgrowth of the AZ CCI initiative. For 2-plus years we learned together—artists and community leaders, educators, dedicated residents, business owners and service providers—all sharing expertise in an evolving creative collaboration,” said Jaime Dempsey, executive director of the Arizona Commission on the Arts. “It has been an honor to partner with the communities represented in the AZ CCI and this podcast series, and we can’t wait for listeners to engage with these layered, inspiring community stories.”
“We believe that Arizona thrives when it has a healthy and equitable arts ecology,” said Jen Cole, director of ASU’s National Accelerator for Cultural Innovation. “This means that artists have the resources and support to do their work. It means residents and elected officials recognize that this activity is vital to thriving towns, and it means that institutional partners like ASU can listen and leverage their resources in service to community creativity. We are so thrilled that this collaboration was full of learning, un-learning and challenge, because together we created a deep conversation about what a vibrant arts ecology can be statewide.”
Revazova earned her master’s in journalism from the University of Nevada, Reno, and is the founder of Open Conversation, a podcast production network. She has produced stories for numerous private clients and radio stations, including Phoenix’s NPR affiliate, KJZZ.
“We all collectively made this podcast happen: every community, every partner of AZ CCI, many community members,” said Revazova of the experience. “I traveled to many towns, cities and neighborhoods, and all these places I visited opened their doors wide for me, told me their precious stories and invited me to witness the unfolding magic of a powerful, collaborative creativity. It takes a village to produce episodes like this, and we’ve gotten the best ‘village’ to accomplish this goal. Thank you for trusting me with your stories.”