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Ford Foundation Grant Helps Low-Income Minority Artists Become Successful



Tucson, Arizona  –The Community Foundation for Southern Arizona (CFSA) awarded a grant of $67,755 to fund a collaboration of arts organizations, made possible through a grant from the Ford Foundation, that will help ethnic minority artists become economically successful.

The project is called the “Asset Building for Artists of Color Initiative.” The four grant partners are Tucson Pima Arts Council, El Centro de Cultural de las Americas, PRO Neighborhoods and Arts Marketplace. CFSA and its partners aim to build the capacity of key arts organizations to help artists of color become self-sufficient, healthy, civically engaged, employed, educated, homeowners and entrepreneurs.

Through this grant, the Ford Foundation is addressing the disparity between how communities value art and how they value artists.  A 2003 Urban Institute study, Investing in Creativity: A Study of the Support Structure for U.S. Artists, reported that 96% of Americans value art in their communities and lives, but only 27% value artists. In addition, more than three-fourths of standard cash grants to individual artists are less than $10,000 and more than half are under $2,000 (Giving USA 2006). A significant number of artists live on the economic margins of society with inadequate support systems.  On average, the majority of artists earn less than other people with comparable education and skill sets, earning a mere $5,000 annually, clearly well below the federal poverty level.

“This capacity-building grant addresses a key recommendation in the Pima Cultural Plan – to increase effectiveness and business development of our arts organizations and the artists they serve by enhancing collaborations, resource sharing and professional development,” according to Roberto Bedoya, executive director of TPAC, the organization that led the creation of that long-range plan.

There are an estimated 220 arts and cultural organizations in Tucson and Pima County including over 2,000 self-employed artists, musicians, artisans, writers and performing artists according to TPAC.

Bedoya said, “We are excited to lead this coalition-building effort that will reach out to hundreds of our community’s talented yet fiscally struggling artists.  This initiative and partnership will advance our unique cultural community.”

As the lead organization, TPAC will provide technical assistance and professional development for arts organizations, mini-grants for artists and coalition-building support.

El Centro de Cultural de las Americas will conduct community outreach and needs assessment, and artist summits and showcases to create new market opportunities.

Arts Marketplace, a non-profit membership-based program, will provide opportunities for education, networking, mentoring and access to capital for artists.

Pro Neighborhoods will design an artist assessment survey and implementation plan and facilitate follow-up community engagement forums for artists to identify solutions.

“We at El Centro Cultural de las Americas see this important project as a validation of our long-standing work promoting the advancement of ethically diverse artists including Hispanics, Native Americans and African Americans,” said Elva Flores, founding member of the El Centro board of directors. “We commend the Community Foundation for its leadership in supporting this important aspect of diversity and economic development.”

Additional advisory and coalition members include the Tucson Indian Center, Arizona Commission on the Arts, Pima County Department of Community Development and Neighborhood Conservation, ACCION-Arizona, Microbusiness Advancement Center, Drachman Institute College of Architecture and Landscape Architecture at the University of Arizona and the Tucson Southern Arizona Black Chamber of Commerce.

“For CFSA this collaboration builds upon our on-going partnerships with the nonprofit sector and community, where we are working together to address the most pressing social issues, build on our strengths and enhance the cultural vitality within Southern Arizona,” said Don Luria, CFSA Board of Trustee. “Healthy, diverse, prosperous and civically engaged artists are one hallmark of a successful community.”

Tomás León, Media Relations
Office: (520) 770-0800 x104
Mobile: (520) 270-3604

The mission of the Community Foundation for Southern Arizona is to work with charitably minded individuals and organizations to strengthen Southern Arizona communities, now and for generations to come. A public organization with more than $90 million in assets, this foundation has allocated more than $100 million to the community since its founding in 1980. For more information call 520 770-0800 or visit .


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