We have a saying, those of us who have toiled in the downtown Tucson art world. Similar to “dog years”, a “downtown year” how you age in the environment of downtown Tucson/art world versus an actual calendar year – for example I have worked downtown for over twenty years –that’s about 140 years at any other place….
Full disclosure time. I will from time to time mention programs at the Fox Tucson Theatre in this blog as I was the founder of that project and currently volunteer there. I also will be writing about other Tucson art organizations that I have been involved with over the past two decades. I will always disclose my relationships to these organizations, but it is impossible to talk about the arts in Tucson without bringing up a lot of history. The fact that I was witness to some of it is both a blessing and a curse.
One of the most frustrating elements of working in the arts is the lack of awareness in the general population of arts events. The so-called “Art-200”, the regulars who attend any given art event in Tucson, has its counterpart in drama and music circles, I assume. Go to any art event in Tucson and you begin to see the same faces over and over again. This is a good thing, seeing a loyal supportive audience, but how does it grow? Much of the problem is tied to marketing and promotion. We are bombarded by information daily with less and less free time to process this information. The development of central information portals is a step in the right direction, but a concentrated, integrated campaign would go a long way towards increasing attendance, awareness and potentially the finances of all involved. In other communities, the creation of a campaign around the local arts offerings have led to greater support and success of the participating entities.
Back in the late 1980’s a local campaign titled “Tucson – a City of the Arts” was created I believe in part by T/PAC (Tucson Pima Arts Council) and highlighted the many artistic offerings in the community. The burgeoning Tucson Arts District (R.I.P.) was also a central player in the campaign attempting to draw an audience to downtown – then full of upstart galleries and artist studios. This campaign is what we need again. A coordinated multi-media marketing drive to increase awareness of our amazing resources and opportunities. At times like these we need to come together and celebrate what makes us unique from other communities. Hopefully this can happen before another 140 years passes…