The Arts Mean Business

Arts & Economic Prosperity 5 shows impact in Arizona

Nonprofit arts and culture organizations and their audiences in Phoenix, Mesa, Flagstaff and seven West Valley communities contributed more than a half-billion dollars in economic activity in 2015, supporting more than 17,000 fulltime jobs and generating over $55 million in local and state taxes, according to Arts & Economic Prosperity 5, a national study conducted by Americans for the Arts.

Participating nonprofit arts and culture organizations spent a total of $246 million, while their audiences generated another $297 million in spending beyond admission costs on related activities like dining, hotels and other retail activity.

The nonprofit arts and culture organizations in the City of Phoenix, the City of Mesa, the City of Flagstaff and West Valley cities Avondale, Glendale, Goodyear, Litchfield Park, Peoria, Surprise and Wickenburg were among 341 communities across the nation participating in the study, which demonstrates the extensive impact non-profits arts and culture organizations have on local economies.

Visit Americans for the Arts: Arts & Economic Prosperity 5 for more information.

Keeping the pressure on to fund the NEA and other federal culture agencies

Despite the White House recommendations to eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts and other federal cultural agencies, the U.S. House Appropriations Committee approved a bill in July that calls for the NEA to be funded at $145 million in FY 2018. This is a $5 million cut from the current funding level, and $10 million less than recommended by a bipartisan group of 154 members of Congress.

However, it is a strong indication the Congress does not support eliminating federal funding for arts and culture. But this battle is not over. The U.S. Senate must still act this fall. To stay up to date on this issue and ways to contact your Congressional representatives, visit the Americans for the Arts Mobilization Center for more information about the NEA, or American Alliance for Museums for information on the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Institute for Museum and Library Services and other cultural agencies.

Universal Charitable Tax Deduction would benefit all taxpayers AND non-profit organizations

As GOP Congressional leaders released their long-awaited tax reform framework, the Arts Action Fund of Americans for the Arts urged that the charitable tax deduction be extended to all filers, not just those who itemize their deductions.

While the proposed plan preserves the charitable tax deduction for itemizers, it also doubles the standard deduction to encourage taxpayers to move away from itemizing. Studies anticipate the loss from this change could cost non-profits, including arts organizations, as much as $13 billion in donations each year. However, giving all taxpayers the incentive of the charitable tax deduction could see an increase of $4.8 billion in donations per year.

Read the Americans for the Arts statement on the charitable tax deduction, and then take action.

Arts Ed given little credit in new state education accountability plan

Arizona’s state plan under the Federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) has been approved by the U.S. Department of Education. State-level accountability plans were required to be updated after Congress passed ESSA into law in December 2015, replacing No Child Left Behind as the primary federal legislation addressing America’s public education system.

After soliciting and incorporating public comment, the Arizona plan mirrors ESSA by explicitly noting that arts education is an element of a “well-rounded” education and, therefore, qualifies for federal funding under several sections of the law relating to school-based grants and teacher and curriculum programs.

However, the plan which also encourages elementary and middle schools to earn points in its A-F accountability system for accelerating student achievement -- beyond math and English Language Arts – offers little recognition for arts education achievement.  AP arts education is in a “bonus point” system in the high school A-F report card model, but the K-8 model for elementary and middle schools provides no credit for arts education, despite an Arizona’s requirement that music and visual arts be taught in elementary schools.

Arizona Citizens for the Arts is continuing to advocate for changes to the A-F report card that give more credit for achievement in arts education, so that more arts education is encouraged in our schools. If you would like to be a part of this important advocacy effort, please contact us.

Deadline is Oct. 13 for the Creative Counties Placemaking Challenge

Non-urban Arizona counties may receive assistance in the “placemaking” efforts through a partnership with Americans for the Arts and the National Association of Counties (NACo). The Creative Counties Placemaking Challenge is designed to identify and strengthen ways to integrate arts into solutions to local community challenges.

Deadline for counties with populations less than 250,000 to submit applications for support is Oct. 13.  Teams submitting winning applications will attend an in-person 2½-day training and peer exchange workshop in March in Des Moines, Iowa.

For information visit


New Executive Director of the Arizona Commission on the Arts

sets vision for the future

Last month, former Deputy Director Jamie Dempsey became the sixth Executive Director of the Arizona Commission on the Arts, succeeding Robert Booker who retired in August.

Since becoming Deputy Director in 2006, Dempsey has been driving force behind a number of the Commission’s recent strategic initiatives, including Art Tank, Community Catalyst’s and the NextAz initiative, Creative Communities.

Dempsey has noted it is an honor to be appointed Executive Director as the Arts Commission in the agency’s 50th year and as it begins to execute the NextAz initiative.

NextAZ’s very premise is a belief in Arizona’s creative potential, the boundless imagination of its residents, and a desire to leverage Arizona’s unique creative assets – some recognized, some yet undiscovered – for even greater community impact,” she said.

Before joining the Commission, Dempsey developed community programs and partnerships as the first program manager for the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing at Arizona State University, later teaching courses in arts leadership and nonprofit management for ASU’s Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts.  She is a member of the national board of directors for Grantmakers in the Arts.

The Arizona native’s message to the arts community is that she continues to be inspired by her home state. “I believe creativity thrives here. And I can’t wait to imagine Arizona’s creative future, with you.

Learn more about the work of the Arizona Commission on the Arts

MEGA Conference

"A World of Opportunities” for Title 1 Schools is Nov. 14-16

The Arizona Department of Education’s annual MEGA Conference will showcase Arizona student works in the arts and STEAM at the 2017 event, Nov. 14-16 at The Wigwam in Litchfield Park.  The conference will highlight “A World of Opportunities” for Title 1 schools through workshops and keynote presentations sharing strategies and resources to implement Title 1 programs and services as well as celebrating effective practices – including the use of arts education interventions.

Registration is $380 per person.
Lodging at The Wigwam must be reserved by Monday, Oct. 16.

For more information, visit