Arts Foundation Now

An invitation to learn about and participate in a shared vision for arts and culture in Tucson and Southern Arizona.

Since the inception of the The Arts Foundation 33 years ago, our region has seen many changes. As with all change, creating new vision necessitates adaptability, resourcefulness, and imagining what is possible.

What has not changed is our commitment to public art; providing grants and professional opportunities to artists and arts organizations; and looking for partnerships, relationships, and synergies, that enable the arts to thrive in this community.

We have taken stock of our community’s journey, and are leading the conversation about the arts in Tucson and Southern Arizona. The arts have always played a central role in civic renewal, and will continue to remain essential to our success. The fresh, new website that you find yourself on now is one example of how we are emerging as the catalyst for community cultural development—one that utilizes new resources and technologies to promote the arts.

We seek to educate our community into action, and we hope you will use the information here to connect, discover, and get more involved.


“We have to figure out how to increase the value that people put on the arts. We have to figure out how to show people that it’s important in everybody’s lives.”

– Rick Lowe, Artist, Community Organizer; Member, NEA National Council on the Arts

  • What is The Arts Foundation for Tucson and Southern Arizona?

    The Arts Foundation is a 501(c)3 funding agency, designed to advance artistic expression, civic participation, and equitable economic growth of our diverse community by supporting, promoting, and advocating for arts and culture in our region. 

  • How is The Arts Foundation funded?

    Primarily through the City’s general fund as an outside agency and through the Pima County Economic Development and Tourism department. We also receive public art funds from the Percent for Art program, national federal funds through the National Endowment for the Arts, state money through the Arizona Commission on the Arts, private foundations, individual contributions, and in-kind donations of time and talent from the community.

  • Given your evolving focus, will you still be granting funds to artists and arts organizations and offering opportunities for public artists?
  • The Arts Foundation has a long history of facilitating The Open Studio Tour (OST). Is that still your mission?

    In 2015, budget cuts prohibited The Arts Foundation from facilitating Open Studio Tours as we had done in years past. Artists responded to the cut by joining together to host multiple tours that they coordinated independently. In 2017, Arts Foundation supported Southern Arizona Arts & Cultural Alliance to operate the Open Studios Tours.

  • What happened to the P.L.A.C.E. Initiative?

    For six years, the P.L.A.C.E. Initiative distributed nearly $300,000 in grants to our community. Many important studies and dialogues emerged from these “placemaking” conversations, including the widely-distributed P.L.A.C.E. report. We find ourselves in new territory of evolving language and exciting ideas: What happens when we begin to see our places in a whole new light, and imagine what they could become? P.L.A.C.E. has created a foundation for the work of our New Initiatives. The P.L.A.C.E. Initiative is now closed.

  • How is The Arts Foundation organized now?

    The Arts Foundation is comprised of four employees:

    • Carol Varney, Acting Executive Director
    • Mary Schuler, Operations Manager
    • Jeff DeCosta, Public Art Manager
    • Natalia Gabrielsen, Program Coordinator
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