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Piper, Flinn foundations allocate funds to metro Phoenix arts groups

[Source: Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust & Flinn Foundation] — A total of $1.25 million will go into a one-time arts and culture initiative resulting from redirecting remaining grant funds from the wind-down of Metro Phoenix Partnership for Arts and Culture (MPAC).   The Flinn Foundation and Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust, MPAC’s two major funders, have designated the outstanding funds for the Flinn-Piper Strengthening the Arts Initiative.  The initiative has two parts:

  • The Flinn Emergency Fund for Arts Organizations comprising $500,000 in unrestricted grants to 21 arts and culture organizations.
  • The Piper Arts Restructuring and Transformation Fund (ART Fund) of up to $750,000 to implement new nonprofit structures, processes and collaborative ventures to increase revenue and reduce costs.  Piper Trust previously made one-time unrestricted grants to 39 arts and culture organizations.

The Flinn fund will make grants to Maricopa County arts and culture organizations that had received funding historically from the Flinn Foundation. Grant amounts are based on the annual operating budgets of the 21 arts and culture nonprofits.  Flinn does not provide general operating support as a rule but has made an exception given the urgent needs of arts and culture organizations, according to Jack Jewett, president and CEO, Flinn Foundation.  “The arts and culture institutions that play such an important role in our community continue to face severe challenges in the midst of the ‘Great Recession,'” said Jewett.  “We hope these modest grants will provide at least temporary relief in meeting immediate operating needs.”

Piper Trust will use the ART Fund to award two-year grants of $50,000 to $150,000. Successful projects will investigate and implement new business methods that change the organization’s business model and approach to mission to promote long-term financial stability.  The grants are not intended for short-term, cash-flow needs or current core operating costs.  “The daunting new arts and culture world of changing demographics and persistent economic insecurity requires arts and culture organizations to examine new ways to do business,” said Judy Jolley Mohraz, Piper Trust president and CEO.  Organizations eligible for the program are Piper Trust arts and culture grantees with annual operating budgets over $250,000.  The Trust will send application information directly to the 36 eligible Maricopa County organizations.  Piper Trust hopes to award the ART Fund grants by mid-August.

The Flinn Foundation and Piper Trust also have agreed to co-sponsor a four-day April 2011 Arizona Town Hall about the impact of arts and culture on Arizona’s economy.  A survey of Town Hall members revealed the need to address the creation of a vibrant statewide economy incorporating arts and culture.  Each organization will make a grant of $25,000 for the program.  [Note: Read the full press release at Piper, Flinn foundations allocate funds to metro Phoenix arts groups.]

MPAC board votes to ‘wind down’ organization in flagging economy

[Source: MPAC, Flinn Foundation, Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust] — Confronted with difficult economic times, for itself and the arts and culture organizations it was formed to support, the Metro Phoenix Partnership for Arts and Culture (MPAC) board of directors has voted to cease the nonprofit organization’s staffing and programmatic operations.  MPAC will support the plan of its major funders to use remaining grants funds to directly assist arts and culture organizations.

For five years, MPAC has led the state in understanding the vital connection between the creative community and economic development.  Formed in 2004 by grants from the Flinn Foundation and Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust, MPAC has worked to promote a vibrant creative community in Maricopa County and harness arts and culture as an economic driver.  The foundations supported the nonprofit organization with the goal of it achieving self-sufficiency by the conclusion of the grants, scheduled for early 2011.

The recession challenged MPAC’s economic viability and fundraising efforts, as it has done to arts and culture organizations across the nation.  It ultimately thwarted plans to place a revenue-generating initiative for arts and culture on the statewide ballot—a strategy that has been successful in other major metropolitan areas during better economic times.  “Rather than continue to consume valuable grant monies, the board made the decision to wind down the organization and support the foundations’ plans to use the remaining grant funds to support arts and culture organizations directly,” said Sandra Werthman, who chairs the MPAC board of directors.

“MPAC has made substantial progress in setting the framework for arts and culture to thrive from an economic perspective in the Phoenix area,” said Myra Millinger, MPAC president and CEO.  “We just could not ignore the fiscal realities that jeopardize MPAC’s long-term existence.”

The Flinn Foundation and Piper Trust have agreed to work together in fashioning a one-time arts and culture initiative with the remaining grant funds.  Plans will be announced once program details are decided in upcoming weeks. [Note: Read the full press release at MPAC board votes to ‘wind down’ organization in flagging economy.]

Next Phoenix Rising gathering to discuss local, state arts & culture environment

phoenix_rising_logo.jpgThe next gathering of Phoenix Rising will be held Wednesday, May 13, 2009, from 6 to 8 p.m. at Side Bar, 1514 N. 7th Ave, 2nd Floor.  The guest speaker will be Cyd West with the Maricopa Partnership for Arts and Culture.  To RSVP, call or e-mail Grant Almquist (602-615-2799) or Cathleen Mitchell (917-626-8270).

Phoenix Rising was formed by like-minded individuals who share a passion for shaping the future of Phoenix.  For more information, visit their website.

Down economy causing strain on Arizona’s arts & culture groups

[Source: Maricopa Partnership for Arts & Culture] — Arts and culture in metro Phoenix and all of Arizona is in serious peril.  Already lowest in contributed revenues among a ranking of ten competitor regions, the current economic downturn threatens to severely reduce the capability of arts and culture organizations to provide the public with the current level of quality and quantity of programming.  In the face of this challenge, MPAC is moving swiftly to inform business and community leadership about the immediate importance of supporting this vital piece of the local economy.

MPAC is partnering with the strategic communications firm of FirstStrategic to reach Arizonans with the message that public funding for arts and culture is lacking in our state and is needed to ensure Arizona has a vibrant future and the ability to compete for knowledge workers and industries.

The lack of vibrancy in Metro Phoenix’s arts, culture, and creative cluster impedes the region’s ability to attract and retain workers in the fields of medicine, technology, design, and bioscience, among other high wage sectors.  These workers are critical for knowledge-based businesses to expand their footprint and diversify Arizona’s economy.  Investing in a strong creative cluster has proven to be transformational.  Competitor cities such as Austin, Salt Lake City, and Denver dramatically diversified their economies and regions by making the commitment to invest in arts and culture.

Two brochures are available for download here.  One highlights the role arts and culture plays in attracting knowledge workers and encouraging a diverse economy, the other on the educational impact of arts and culture in the community.

Twitting the Phoenix arts & culture scene

Want the latest news (and perhaps gossip) about the metro Phoenix arts and culture scene?  Well go high-tech with one of the latest social media tools, Twitter, to follow what’s happening.  Here’s a sampling:

If you know of other local individuals and organizations “twitting” on this topic, feel free to reply back and we’ll add them to the list.

Regional arts group announces steering committee for Metro Phoenix DNA Roadmap

[Source: Maricopa Partnership for Arts & Culture] — “In no other metro area in the United States will you find such a combination of uncharted ground, open space, meritocracy, and an unpainted canvas than in Metro Phoenix.  Its DNA is based on providing new opportunities in an oasis surrounded by beauty and open space.  People come to and live in Metro Phoenix for one thing: opportunity.”

That is the core finding –- the concept of an Opportunity Oasis –- from the Metro Phoenix DNA Roadmap, the first initiative of its kind for a U.S. city or region.  The effort focuses on building an authentic identity that works across sectors and provides an overarching platform for Metro Phoenix to position it on the global stage for economic success.

The Metro Phoenix DNA Roadmap is being spearheaded by the Maricopa Partnership for Arts and Culture (MPAC) and conducted by the international strategy firm arthesia.  To lead and guide the effort, MPAC has assembled a steering committee comprised of local leaders who will be responsible for the long-term implementation of the Metro Phoenix DNA Roadmap in terms of content and direction.  [Note: To read the full article and list of steering committee members, click here.]

Phoenix’s small arts groups make First Friday authentic

Four years ago, Downtown Voices Coalition issued its report, “Downtown Voices: Creating a Sustainable Downtown.”  In the slideshow above, in recognition of First Friday this coming Friday, we highlight arts-oriented businesses and organizations along Roosevelt Row, Grand Avenue, and the Warehouse District.  The report’s section on Arts and Culture recommended the following:

  • The City should create a task force, including downtown artists, to research opportunities and ways to preserve and nurture existing arts uses downtown and explore realistic approaches to funding sources, zoning issues, building codes, live/work space, etc. and their implementation.   STATUS: Significant progress with the creation of the Downtown Artists Issues Task Force (2005); initiation of the Artists Storefront Program; creation of the Arts, Culture, and Small Business Overlay; and current work of another task force focused on adaptive reuse. 
  • The arts need to be recognized and respected as the small businesses they are, and assisted in accessing services available to small businesses, or have programs tailored specifically to their needs.  STATUS: Work in progress as groups like Local First Arizona, RadiatePhoenix, Phoenix Downtown Market, Downtown Voices Coalition, Roosevelt Row, Grand Avenue Merchants Association, and SoDo continue to state the case for local authenticity.
  • The City should take advantage of piggyback marketing opportunities, acknowledging the opportunities associated with monthly First Fridays and annual Art Detour.  STATUS: Work in progress as numerous parties, including the City of Phoenix, Downtown Phoenix Partnership, Maricopa Partnership for Arts and Culture, and ASU Downtown, work to reinvigorate marketing of downtown Phoenix.

If you know of other positive things going on, please let us know.

Raise city coffers! Buy Phoenix coffee-table books!

In the Arizona Republic article on Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon’s “trial balloon” idea to raise city revenue by installing slot machines at Sky Harbor, reporter Casey Newton noted that numerous residents wrote to the newspaper with their own fund-raising ideas.

For example, reader Lori Haskell suggested Phoenix develop and sell a coffee-table book highlighting unique buildings and architecture.  “The book would not only be a good tool to further entice people to visit, promoting tourism, but a money maker, too,” she wrote.

Well Lori, your wish has come true, thanks to the Maricopa Partnership for Arts and Culture and the city’s Historic Preservation Office.  From the former (not a city agency, however) comes “Phoenix: 21st Century City” and from the latter comes “Historic Homes of Phoenix.”  Start your Christmas shopping today!

Things you can do to support Phoenix arts & culture

[Source: Maricopa Partnership for Arts and Culture] — Every member of our community deserves to have opportunities to discover and enjoy a diversity of arts and culture offerings.  Access to the arts for individuals and families depends on community support and action.  Fortunately, there is a great deal you can do to help, and most of it is fun!  Here are some ideas of how to get involved and help keep arts and culture a vital piece of our quality of life.

  • Attend an event – visit to find the surprising variety of offerings available every week in the region.
  • Take a child to a museum, the zoo, or a live performance for kids.
  • Encourage your employees to attend and support arts and culture organizations and events.
  • Advocate for arts education experiences for young people.
  • Advocate to your peers nationwide that Greater Phoenix is emerging as a worldclass, 21st Century region.
  • Integrate arts and culture support in your company’s business plan.
  • Sign up for the MPAC eNewsletter to stay informed on MPAC’s activities.
  • Use your influence to ensure that your elected officials understand the critical business case for a vibrant and sustainable arts and culture community.
  • Sign up at Arizona Citizens for the Arts for information and updates on legislation that impacts the arts and cultural sector.
  • Support efforts to secure funding for the region’s non-profit arts and culture organizations.
  • Speak up for arts and culture as a vital piece of our economic prosperity and infrastructure.
  • Share your thoughts and ideas at

New study reveals Latino market untapped opportunity for Phoenix arts & culture groups

[Source: Maricopa Partnership for Arts and Culture] — Comprising nearly a third of metropolitan Phoenix’s population, Latinos spent approximately $118 million on cultural activities during 2007-2008.  This estimated amount has potential to grow significantly, according to recently completed research by the Maricopa Partnership for Arts and Culture (MPAC).  Entitled “Arts, Culture, and the Latino Audience,” the study conducted by Behavior Research Center (BRC) reveals the vastly untapped potential of this burgeoning market and provides recommendations for local arts and culture organizations to increase Latino attendance.  It is the first in-depth study of Latino arts and culture participation in the Phoenix market and one of the few of any market nationwide.

Three generations of one family“Our research shows a definite interest within the Latino community in arts and culture events and attractions,” says MPAC President and CEO Myra Millinger.  “However, the regional cultural organizations have faced challenges in actually getting this market through the door.”  Research participants indicated about twice the amount of interest in cultural activities as actual attendance.  Although cost often factored into the decision, the participants were more likely to go to an event or attraction if it was perceived as having a casual, family-friendly atmosphere.  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]