Revitalization of Tucson’s Historic Arts District Has Begun!by Charles Spillar on Jul. 05, 2010, under arts, Tucson Art
Visit the downtown historic arts warehouse district and you will see revitalization in action. On July 1, The Warehouse Arts Management Organization (WAMO) started major progress in downtown Tucson when they took over management of the Citizens Art Studios. Over forty artists and arts supporters showed up early July 1 to clean-up and beautify one of the properties they are now managing. The other WAMO properties are also scheduled for major changes in the near future.
WAMO was formed in 2004 as an outcome of the Tucson Historic Warehouse Arts District master planning process. They have been working tirelessly for six years; thousands of man-hours without compensation, to accomplish their goal of a vibrant downtown arts district where the artists can still afford to maintain a studio. Below is the Mission Statement from the WAMO website and explains why they are so important for the revitalization of downtown Tucson. The organization has created a 3-D model of the historic arts district available for viewing at 403 North 6th Ave. here in Tucson later in the week. (Former Eric Firestone Gallery)
WAMO’s mission is to cultivate and manage Tucson’s Historic Warehouse Arts District into a center for incubation, production, exhibition, education, and management of the arts, to make a significant contribution to the local and regional economy for the benefit of the public at large.
WAMO continues and develops the work of artists and related individuals who have helped to create Tucson’s Historic Warehouse Arts District as an active and varied center and community for the arts, within a downtown community that includes working artists, galleries, museums, nonprofit arts organizations, and supportive retail and residential interests.
Primarily through the active management of properties and other resources, including ownership and development of properties, WAMO guides the District so that it continues to foster the arts and the community into a vibrant future.
WHY SHOULD WE SUPPORT ARTISTS EFFORTS? WHAT DOES AN ARTIST REALLY DO?
I have often read some negative comments to articles written about Tucson’s arts community, their studio spaces, etc. I am afraid that so many of these negative comments are from people that have no idea just what an artist does and their importance to the community.
The best way to explain to those that are not aware should look at the individual artist as you would an entrepreneur in business. First a business has to set up its books and do the accounting. Artists have to do this and become their own bookkeeper.
Businesses need a product or service to sell for their income. Artists buy the materials, create the product (their art) and after a body of their products are ready begin marketing them.
They then have to become the Sales & Marketing Department soliciting galleries and art buyers.
In addition to their marketing efforts they have to become their own publicist to make their potential customers aware of their product (their art).
It is not usual for the entrepreneur artist to work several jobs to support their business and then work countless hours to produce more products (their art).
So you see the artist is the designer, the accountant & bookkeeper, the manufacturer (not accurate term since most art are hand-made one-of-a-kind), the sales and marketing department, inventory control department, purchasing agent, transportation department, and many must create in their studios their own gallery doing installation & lighting design. They are the business card designer, create business mailers, and perform every function any business needs necessary for their survival.
The above is not just true for the visual artists but also for any form of the arts. Musicians, dancers, performers, etc. all at one time need to wear these many hats to survive and pursue their dreams.
You may ask WHY someone would take on a business like this with no guarantee of customers or any success. The answer is simple. IT IS THEIR PASSION! How many people do you know in any kind of business continue to pursue their dreams no matter how hard times can be or how many obstacles they face today and in the future. Will they be willing to take several jobs to support themselves for as long as it takes, maybe years until they become successful?
Besides just looking at the artists as a business contributing to a community you need to analyze any city in the world and the cultural environment that happened because of their contributions. Can you imagine Paris, Rome, Milan, Athens, Stockholm, Barcelona, New York, San Francisco and any other great city in the world without their art? Those cities have become great because of the contributions of their talented creative community.
A city’s artistic talent adds to the quality of life for the whole community and their importance should never be underestimated. There have been numerous studies that also recognize the substantial economic value the arts community contributes to a city such as Tucson.