Dear colleagues, partners, and friends in Arizona’s arts and culture sector:

During this period of rapid change and uncertainty, the Arizona Commission on the Arts will be in contact more frequently to provide information on evolving resources and developments, to let you know how the Arts Commission is responding, and to invite you to engage with us—such that your perspectives guide us—as we navigate the current crisis together.

A few important updates and things I’d like you to know. Action items in red.

I hope you are taking good care. Your health and wellbeing, and that of those who count on you, is paramount.

We see and hear you, and believe in what you offer to the world. This is a painful and confusing time. Still we know the arts and culture sector can remake itself during and after this crisis, and that when we do, the sector will have provided essential leadership—to uplift, comfort, invent, and inspire.

We are carrying your message forward at the state level. For months we have been in rigorous contact with Arizona State Legislators, and even more so in the past two weeks, urging them to include arts funding in the “skinny budget” (covering core government services) that they aimed to pass before recessing until further notice. I am sorry to report that an arts allocation was not included in this budget, passed today. We are told the legislature will reconvene virtually in April to revisit budget areas not addressed in the skinny budget. Please, right now, connect with Arizona Citizens for the Arts for more information on this and to receive future calls to action.

We are carrying your message forward at the federal level. We are working in close partnership with national service organizations on the front lines of efforts to include artists, arts professionals, and nonprofit arts and culture organizations in federal relief and stimulus bills taking shape right this minute. Again, please connect with Arizona Citizens for the Arts on this, and with Americans for the Arts for up-to-the-minute information you can amplify to collaborators and audiences.

We are collaborating with other arts and culture funders on emergency response and long-term recovery strategies. Though not all Arizona arts funders have unallocated dollars available, and not all will find strategic alignment due to our distinct missions, many of us are working together at this moment—to collectively release grant restrictions, repurpose funding, and streamline response efforts on behalf of the arts and culture sector. Keep your eyes peeled this week for the rollout of a collaborative Emergency Response Fund for working artists, teaching artists, production personnel, and contract administrators as a start.

We are exploring models for increased virtual convenings. In this time of physical distancing the need for substantive dialogue and interpersonal connection is more important than ever. We have conducted and participated in many virtual discussions with arts professionals over the last week and aim to offer space and structure for expanded virtual convenings, soon. Stay tuned.

We made several changes to Arts Commission practices and programs within the last week.

  • Where possible and necessary, we converted project-based grants to general operating support and provided greater flexibility to school and individual grantees whose activities have been indefinitely postponed.
  • We are processing remaining Community Investment Grant (general operating support for arts organizations) payments as swiftly as possible.
  • Previously scheduled public meetings, including our upcoming quarterly board meeting, will now be held online.
  • Our staff is working remotely and maintaining office hours. We remain available via email and can schedule meetings with you via phone or videoconferencing.

Please reach out if we can provide support. Be well, and please don’t give up.

Jaime Dempsey
Executive Director

for forthcoming support from the federal government, and look forward to sharing news with you about how this funding will directly benefit Arizonans.


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