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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.]

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.]

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.]

Metro Phoenix…an Opportunity Oasis?

[Source: Arizona Republic Editorial Board] — Metropolitan Phoenix is…an Opportunity Oasis.  We are the last green economic “oasis” where raw ambition, hard work and a measure of skill can evolve, often quickly, into the quintessential Horatio Alger story.  We are the “unpainted canvas” — the one community in America where someone with grit and a sense of creative enterprise can imprint his or her vision on the community and make it something different.  Something more.  Horatio Algers of the arts, apply here.

These are among the conclusions of a project known as the “Metro Phoenix DNA Project,” underwritten by the Maricopa Partnership for Arts and Culture.  It is a quest to define what we are as a community and, as a result, help form what we may become.  The quest is every bit as high-minded and expansive as it sounds.  “We try to understand what the soul of the community is,” explained Myra Millinger, president and CEO of MPAC.  “We firmly believe that the creative community here is a critical core competency to the future of the community,” she said Monday in a meeting with The Arizona Republic Editorial Board.

The need for such a concept may not be easy to get one’s arms around.  Is it, for example, an impatient assessment of what metropolitan Phoenix is now?  Is the very effort to construct a community raison d’etre a tacit admission that…well, this desert-region metropolis has no identity, so one must be created and marketed?  Heaven knows, we’ve been down that road a time or two before.  Downtown Phoenix just barely survived an ill-fated run-in with a branding thingy called “Copper Square.”  Is this — gulp! — Copper Square Redux?  And is it, when all is said and done, a mere statement of the obvious?  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]