For Immediate Release
Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Steve Wilcox
[email protected]

AZ Creative Communities Institute Invites Cities/Towns to Explore Creative Potential
Applications now being accepted for 12-month collaborative learning program

From Douglas to Kingman, Ajo to Winslow, Arizona communities are increasingly tapping one of their most valuable but least utilized resources: local creativity.

This week, the Arizona Commission on the Arts, an agency of the State of Arizona, ASU’s Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, and Southwest Folklife Alliance issued a direct invitation to every mayor, city/town councilperson, and city/town manager in the State of Arizona, inviting them to apply to participate in a collaborative program focused on identifying creative assets, addressing challenges, and discovering new opportunities in support of their communities’ goals.

“Arizona communities face complex challenges, and resources are often under pressure,” said Jaime Dempsey, Deputy Director of the Arizona Commission on the Arts. “Yet it is also true that every community in the 48th State has unique creative assets – some recognized, some still undiscovered. We believe in Arizona’s creative potential, and look forward to working with residents to cultivate some creative possibilities in support of Arizona cities, towns, and neighborhoods.”

The AZ Creative Communities Institute (AZ CCI) offers small teams, made up of diverse community members, a unique opportunity to explore the many ways Arizona’s creativity can be put to work for positive community impact. AZ CCI teams will become part of an active learning network, with opportunities to learn from and with local and national experts, and peers from other Arizona cities, towns, and neighborhoods.

Representatives of the Arizona Commission on the Arts, Herberger Institute, and Southwest Folklife Alliance will serve as key collaborators, alongside local and national experts in creative engagement, including:

  • Maribel Alvarez, Associate Research Professor, School of Anthropology, and Associate Research Social Scientist at the Southwest Center, University of Arizona; Executive Director, Southwest Folklife Alliance; ASU Cultural Policy Fellow; Community Arts Expert.
  • Maria Rosario Jackson, Institute Professor, Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts at Arizona State University; Senior Advisor, Arts and Culture Program at the Kresge Foundation; Expert in Urban Planning and Community Revitalization.
  • Liz Lerman, Institute Professor, Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts at Arizona State University; Founder, Dance Exchange; MacArthur “Genius” Grant Recipient.
  • Michael Rohd, Institute Professor, Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts at Arizona State University; Founding Artistic Director, Sojourn Theatre; Executive Director, Center for Performance in Civic Practice.

“Arizona is rapidly becoming a hub for the exploration of creative solutions, with internationally-renowned field leaders and experts converging here and engaging with the rich intellectual, artistic, and cultural capital of our communities,” said Jake Pinholster, Associate Dean of Policy and Initiatives for the Herberger Institute. “One of ASU’s and the Herberger Institute’s fundamental responsibilities is to bring artists, university resources, and community leaders together to help Arizona communities thrive. The AZ CCI provides a powerful opportunity to do just that.”

In the second half of the 12-month institute, each participating community will host an embedded artist residency. The focus and format of each artist residency will be collaboratively-designed between the community team and embedded artists, selected through a separate statewide call.

Overall, selected teams will see between $15,000-$20,000 invested in their communities over 12 months (in cash grants, artist services, and direct support).

Those interested in assembling a team to apply are encouraged to visit There, potential applicants will find additional information about the AZ CCI, including application and eligibility requirements.

The deadline for teams to apply is 11:59pm, Wednesday, May 24, 2017.

About the Program Partners

One of 56 state and jurisdictional arts agencies across the United States, the Arizona Commission on the Arts is a 50-year-old agency of the State of Arizona and a leading force in the creative and professional development of Arizona’s arts sector. Its NextAZ program is a 3-year planning initiative designed to empower communities to activate creative assets and co-create ideas to fuel Arizona’s next 50 years. For more information about the Arts Commission and NextAZ, visit

Arizona State University’s Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts is actively exploring initiatives that prototype strategies to cultivate, facilitate, measure, and visualize new intersections between the arts, the university, cities, and the larger community. For more information about the Herberger Institute and its current initiatives, visit The Herberger Institute’s participation in AZ Creative Communities is made possible by a grant from the Surdna Foundation’s Thriving Cultures program.

Southwest Folklife Alliance is an affiliate nonprofit organization of the University of Arizona, College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, and the designated Folk Arts Partner of the Arizona Commission on the Arts with the support of the National Endowment of the Arts. SFA’s mission is to build more equitable and vibrant communities by celebrating the everyday expressions of culture, heritage, and diversity in the Greater Southwest. For more information about Southwest Folklife Alliance, visit


To request this or any other agency publication in an alternative format, contact the Arts Commission offices at (602) 771-6502, or [email protected]. Images available upon request.