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 more than 30 years ago, our region has seen many changes. What has not changed is our commitment to public art; providing grants and professional opportunities to artists and arts organizations; and seeking  partnerships that enable the arts to thrive in our community.

We hope you will join us in advocating for the arts and artists in our community.


“A society must assume that it is stable, but the artist must know, and he must let us know, that there is nothing stable under heaven. One cannot possibly build a school, teach a child, or drive a car without taking some things for granted. The artist cannot and must not take anything for granted, but must drive to the heart of every answer and expose the question the answer hides.”

– James Baldwin, novelist, playwright, poet, essayist, and cultural critic, from the 1962 essay “The Creative Process”

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

    The Arts Foundation is a 501(c)3 organization 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 of Tucson’s general fund and Transient Occupancy Tax, as well as Pima County through the Economic Development and Tourism department. We also receive support from  the County’s Project Management office and the City of Tucson’s Department of Transportation for work we do for the  Percent for Art program, which supports the creation of public art in our region.

    We also receive support from federal funds like the National Endowment for the Arts, on occasion, as well as state money from the Arizona Commission on the Arts, for which we apply each year. Private foundations, individual contributions, and in-kind donations are also a growing component of our funding.

  • Are you making grants to artists and arts organizations and offering opportunities for public artists?
  • Does the Arts Foundation Manage Open Studio Tour (OST)?

    The Arts Foundation continues to manage the Open Studio Tour program as it is an important opportunity for artists in our region to reach new audiences and market their work.

  • 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. There was specific, external funding that supporting the P.L.A.C.E. Initiative and while work is still being done related to “place-keeping” by some Arts Foundation grantees, 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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