Recognizing the need for high-quality, accessible and culturally-relevant professional development for artists, the Arizona Commission on the Arts created AZ ArtWorker, an artist-to-artist professional development program which facilitates dialogue and knowledge-sharing between Arizona artists, their national and international artist peers, and residents of Arizona communities.


AZ ArtWorker represents the largest and most comprehensive programmatic investment in individual artist training in the Arts Commission’s recent history. Through an innovative partnership with Arizona State University and the generous support of the Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation, the Arts Commission offers AZ ArtWorker programs in fourArizona communities: Douglas, Phoenix, Sells, and Tucson. AZ ArtWorker provides an expansive learning platform, which includes:

  • Practical Training: Taught by international and Arizona artists and arts experts, sessions will focus on discipline-specific techniques, socially-engaged methodologies, and creative practices.
  • Experiential Activities: Artists will participate in site/studio visits, performances and artmaking.
  • Public Conversations: Artists will explore big ideas in art and community practice, connecting local and global approaches. Conversations will be open to the public and marketed to artists, arts/culture workers, educators and community leaders.
  • Entrepreneurial Training: Artists will participate in workshops taught by the PAVE Program in Arts Entrepreneurship and will receive digital tools supporting the business side of creative practice.

At their most targeted, AZ ArtWorker offerings provide opportunities for artists to participate in meaningful learning experiences in the communities where they live and work, featuring topical workshops, individual/ group consultations and networking opportunities to build strategic partnerships. At its most expansive, AZ ArtWorker generates community-focused programs, connecting communities and their artists in new and exciting ways.

Dance in the Desert

Latinx dancemakers, arts administrators, and scholars from throughout the region and across the country will gather in Phoenix from April 26-28, 2018, for the inaugural convening of Dance in the Desert, a unique opportunity for the Latinx dance community to come together, deepen relationships, and expand research for the field.

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AZ ArtWorker: Historias del taller escritura creativa en español

Join us at Palabras Bilingual Bookstore in downtown Phoenix, on First Friday, December 1, 2017, for a public reception featuring participants of a Spanish-language creative writing workshop series led by local writer Ofelia Montelongo and sponsored by the Arts Commission's AZ ArtWorker initiative.

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AZ ArtWorker: Milta Ortiz

Join us on Saturday, September 23, 2017, for a free, interactive workshop on crafting a theatrical structure while working with community. The workshop will be led by Tucson playwright and theatre artist Milta Ortiz. 

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AZ ArtWorker: Betsabeé Romero

CALA Alliance and AZ ArtWorker, a program of the Arizona Commission on the Arts, are pleased to welcome renowned contemporary Mexican artist Betsabeé Romero for an artist residency in Phoenix, Arizona.

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AZ ArtWorker: Entrepreneurial Workshop for Indigenous Artists with Linda Essig, Jacob Meders, and First Peoples Fund

Join us for a daylong professional development workshop with content crafted to serve Native American artists led by Linda Essig, Jake Meders, and First Peoples Fund.

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AZ ArtWorker: Betsabeé Romero

CALA Alliance and AZ ArtWorker, a program of the Arizona Commission on the Arts, are pleased to welcome renowned contemporary Mexican artist Betsabeé Romero for an artist residency in Phoenix, Arizona.

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AZ ArtWorker: Roundtable moderated by Adriana Gallego 

Join us for a lively roundtable conversation of arts professionals from around the country, moderated by Adriana Gallego, artist and Deputy Director of the National Association of Latino Arts and Culture.

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AZ ArtWorker: Angel Luzanilla Beltrán

In November 2016, AZ ArtWorker partnered with Xico, El Instituto Sonorense de Cultura, and the Arizona-Mexico Commission to present a Free one-time-only workshop with Internationally renowned Artista Angel Luzanilla Beltrán from Cocórit , Cajeme, Sonora.

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AZ ArtWorker: Richard Montoya

In November 2016, AZ ArtWorker will partner with Teatro Bravo to present a writing and acting workshop with Richard Montoya, co-founder of Chicano theatre group, Culture Clash. Participants will focus on the use of satire and humor to address social and culturally relevant content.

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AZ Art Worker: Yadira De La Riva in Sells

In October 2016, AZ ArtWorker partnered with Tohono O’odham Community College, Shining Soul, and Red Ink Magazine to present a workshop and a performance led by visiting artist Yadira De La Riva. At a community event workshop participants presented original short dramatic works on the theme of reclaiming community narratives. Special guests included Ofelia Zepeda and Shining Soul.

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AZ ArtWorker: Yadira De La Riva in Tucson

In October 2016, AZ ArtWorker partnered with Spoken Futures, a youth-centered literary arts and community engagement organization, to present a workshop with visiting theatre artist and educator Yadira De La Riva in Tucson, Arizona. Workshop participants practiced the incorporation of physical, theatrical movement into spoken word performance.

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AZ ArtWorker: Yadira De La Riva in Douglas

Transborder Hermanx: Regalos was developed by visiting theatre artist and educator Yadira De La Riva and high school students from both sides of the border fence that separates Douglas and Agua Prieta, Sonora. On October 22, 2016, during a public presentation, the two groups of students performed self-composed reflections on border life and transborder friendship from their respective sides of the fence.

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AZ ArtWorker: Liz Lerman's Critical Response Process

On Saturday, Septmber 17, 2016, Join Macarthur “Genius Grant” recipient Liz Lerman for an introductory workshop on her Critical Response Process (CRP), a facilitated structure for giving and getting feedback on artistic works in progress.

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AZ ArtWorker: Painting Workshop with Claudio Dicochea

On June 25, 2016, join AZ ArtWorker and visual artist Claudio Dicochea for a workshop that will provide you with an understanding of paint as a material for artistic expression and painting as an activity that explores our sense of self and our sense of place.

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AZ ArtWorker: Cafesito con Claudio Dicochea

On June 24, 2016, join us for a conversation with visual artist Claudio Dicochea about the personal creative journey of artmaking as well as the social process of placing one's work out in the world.

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AZ ArtWorker: Cafesito con Margarita Cabrera

On June 11, 2016, join us for a meet and greet with Margarita Cabrera, a Mexican-American artist whose objects and activities address timely issues related to border relations, labor practices and immigration. Margarita will talk about her latest project Space in Between, a collaboration with ASU Art Museum, Desert Botanical Gardens and various community organizations.

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Land Tracings

In June 2016, the Arts Commission presented an exhibition at Chartreuse, a contemporary art space on historic Grand Avenue in downtown Phoenix, featuring work by five members of the 2015 cohort of Artist Research & Development Grant recipients. These five artists work in various media and address multiple thematic concerns, but at the core of their artistic practice is a common need to document a passing moment.

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AZ ArtWorker: Asset Mapping as a Tool for Community Empowerment

On May 21, 2016, join us for an interactive, hands-on workshop with Southwest Folklife Alliance. At Who Tells the Best Jokes? Who Makes the Best Tortillas? Asset Mapping as a Tool for Community Empowerment participants will gain a deeper understanding of the field of "place making" and its potential benefits for community prosperity.

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AZ ArtWorker: Re-Creations

On May 19, 2016, Jorge Merced, Associate Artistic Dirctor of New York's Pregones Theatre, will present a workshop on using literary and non-literary texts as inspiration and raw material for theater. The workshop will be presented in partnership with Tucson's Borderlands Theater and feature an introduction by Milta Ortiz.

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AZ ArtWorker: Artist Entrepreneur Workshop

In February 2016, Dr. Linda Essig, Director of Enterprise and Entrepreneurship Programs in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts and founder of the Pave Program in Arts Entrepreneurship at ASU, presented a two-day interactive workshop based on the Arizona Arts Entrepreneur Toolkit–a comprehensive collection of digital tools designed to help artists support the business side of their practice.

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AZ ArtWorker: Asantewa Sunni-Ali

On Wednesday, February 24, 2016, AZ ArtWorker, in partner ship with ASU Performance in the Borderlands and Black Theatre Troupe, will present a thought-provoking workshop with Asantewa Sunni-Ali--Solo Performance: Pathway to Radical Self and Community Reimagination.

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AZ ArtWorker: Anu Yadav

On November 4, 2015, AZ ArtWorker presented a workshop with actor and playwright Anu Yadav in Phoenix. At this intimate workshop, participants learned about theatre as a tool for community organizing and used techniques based on Theatre of the Oppressed to explore how personal story can be used to engage social issues. 

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AZ ArtWorker: Douglas

AZ ArtWorker launched in Douglas, AZ, during the weekend of October 10-11, 2015, presenting community events and artists workshops coordinated with the border community's first bi-national art walk, a visit from internationally renowned artist Ana Teresa Fernández, and the debut of Repellent Fence, the largest bi-national land art installation ever exhibited at the US/Mexico border.

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This program is supported through a grant from the Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation.

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Arizona Commission on the Arts

Thank you to Verde Valley Leadership, Inc. for inviting us to present at their monthly Development Day this afternoon. Our Programs and Grants Coordinator Brad DeBiase co-presented with ASU Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts' Ricky Araiza on the role the arts can play in addressing complex community challenges.

Meanwhile, our Artist Services Manager Gabriela Muñoz participated (virtually) in a panel on “Dance + Art in the Sonoran Desert” at the National Performance Network Annual Conference in Pittsburgh. The panel, organized by Yvonne Montoya, a Tucson-based dance artist and founder of Safos Dance Theatre, also included M. Jenea Sanchez, a media artist and co-founder of Border Arts Corridor in Douglas, and Erin Donahue, a Scottsdale-based dance artist and arts administrator. The panel discussed "the challenges and opportunities of collaborating across 3 different cities to serve and collaborate with artists in communities that have been historically marginalized and isolated."
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