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Enriching Phoenix City partners with Latino community to highlight cultural heritage

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By Phil Jones
Executive director of the Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture
(Special to LPM)

As the city of Phoenix has grown, so too has its arts and cultural community.  Today, more than 130 nonprofit organizations provide arts and cultural experiences for Phoenix residents and visitors.

The Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture and its citizen’s advisory Phoenix Arts and Culture Commission were established in 1985 by the Phoenix City Council to advance the growth and development of the city’s arts and cultural community.

The Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture manages the city’s nationally recognized public art programs, administers a grants program, conducts research, provides assistance to artists and cultural organizations, and oversees the city’s cultural planning efforts.
The city’s active downtown artist community of galleries and arts spaces participates in a monthly First Friday Artwalk, which brings thousands of people to downtown Phoenix.  Attendance at arts and cultural activities in Phoenix exceeds 6 million people each year.

Arts and cultural organizations and their audiences are an acknowledged economic driver, with a $361 million annual economic impact in Phoenix.  Arts activity generates state and city tax revenue, and pumps vital income into local restaurants, hotels, retail stores, parking garages and other businesses.

In April 2008, the Phoenix City Council adopted the city’s first comprehensive Arts and Cultural Plan.  The new plan is the product of a process involving citizens, the arts and cultural community, various city departments, the Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture, and the Arts and Culture Commission.

One of the plan’s 10 goals is to “Create a cultural environment that reflects the city’s demographics.”

This will be accomplished by strengthening the organizational capacity of ethnic cultural organizations, fostering professional development opportunities for ethnic artists, and promoting ethnic cultural organizations and artists to the community.

Specific strategies include developing education programs and curricula that promote an appreciation of ethnic arts, developing mechanisms to increase arts leadership in ethnic communities, and identifying opportunities to develop facilities to serve the needs of ethnic organizations and artists.

Much attention is being paid to the city’s growing Latino community as participants in local arts and culture.  The recent report issued by the Maricopa Partnership for Arts and Culture, Arts, Culture and the Latino Audience demonstrates that Latino audiences already have significant economic impact as attendees at Greater Phoenix arts and cultural events. The report also suggests ways that marketing efforts can be targeted to ensure Latino participation is even greater in the future.

Given the city’s changing demographics, the growth and viability of many Phoenix arts organizations will depend in part on their success in attracting Latinos to their programs.  The Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture and the Arts and Culture Commission will continue to work with the Latino community to build leadership and create new opportunities to highlight the city’s rich Latino cultural heritage.

Collectively these efforts result in a broad range of artistic and cultural opportunities for all Phoenix citizens.

To learn more about how you can get involved in the arts and cultural community please contact the Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture at (602) 262-4637, or visit our Web site at Phoenix.gov/Arts.

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