Phoenix Approves More Financial Relief For Arts And Culture

Published: Wednesday, June 9, 2021 - 4:11pm

Over the next year, Phoenix plans to spend $5 million to help the arts community hurt by the pandemic. It’s nearly double what Phoenix provided in arts and culture grants last year via federal coronavirus relief funds

This year, grants for nonprofits will continue but Phoenix will also spend $1 million to hire artists to develop temporary projects, installations and performances. During Tuesday’s City Council meeting, member Betty Guardado pushed for a citywide focus.

“I think sometimes that the arts are so loyal to downtown and central Phoenix and I think we need to broaden our vision,” she said.

Vice Mayor Carlos Garcia asked how funds would be distributed to ensure equity. Mitch Menchaca, executive director of Phoenix’s Office of Arts and Culture, said they will not repeat last year’s first-come, first-served application process.

“This time we will have a more human element to our outreach strategies, including connecting with community engagement ambassadors in the community, especially BIPOC and marginalized census-tract communities to get the information out,” he said. 

Like Community and Economic Development, Menchaca said his office will provide information in English and Spanish, and have paper applications along with online applications.

Phoenix also plans to give $500,000 to artists and arts workers who’ve lost jobs due to the pandemic and $500,000 for nonprofits to hire full-time interns. Like last year, Phoenix will provide $2.75 million in grants for nonprofits.

Alex Laing, principal clarinet for the Phoenix Symphony, told the council his colleagues have contributed to the community despite being furloughed.

“Phoenix Symphony musicians kept performing and setting up concerts and performances for their neighbors and in particular for frontline health workers and we did this without payment as a means to be of service and to connect with each other and an audience,” he said. “I think as much as anything this year has demonstrated one of the key roles the arts plays is in convening, bringing people together. And the inability to bring together has impacted us as artists, as arts workers, and as providers for our families.”

The $5 million approved for arts and culture relief comes from $198 million in federal funds through the American Rescue Plan Act. Phoenix will receive another $198 million next year.

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