Press Release: Arts Foundation and Health Department Partner on upcoming art and wellness events

Sep 12, 2023 | Arts Foundation News, Arts Foundation Programs, News, Press Release, SaludArte

PIMA COUNTY, Sept. 15, 2023 — The Pima County Health Department and the Arts Foundation for Tucson and Southern Arizona are partnering on a series of five free art and wellness events this September and October to promote community healing through art.

These family-friendly “Celebrate SaludArte” events will bring together public art and public health and feature community-inspired artwork, live performances, food trucks, raffles for prizes, and health resources. Artists also will unveil their temporary art installations at each celebration, which will be held in each of Pima County’s five supervisory districts.

Upcoming events are:

Sunday, Sept. 24, from 2 – 6 p.m. at the Green Valley Community Performance & Art Center (CPAC), District 4
Saturday, Sept. 30, from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. at Ann Day Community Park, District 1
Sunday, Oct. 8, from 2 – 6 p.m. at Winston Reynolds-Manzanita Park, District 5
Sunday, Oct. 15, from 2 – 6 p.m. at Madge Utterback Middle School, District 2
Saturday, Oct. 28, from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. at the Ajo Plaza, District 3

SaludArte is a collaborative project between the Health Department and the Arts Foundation to find ways in which community engagement, health, and art can intersect to amplify the voices and experiences of the community, while also helping to increase health equity, access, literacy and COVID-19 mitigation across the region.

“I’m excited that public health and the arts community are working together, and I hope that this is only the beginning of a strong collaboration,” said Dr. Theresa Cullen, Pima County Health director. “Health happens everywhere! And art initiatives are a powerful means to reflect our community values, strengths, and resilience, as well as elevate the voices of diverse cultures, communities, and groups.”

A central focus of the SaludArte program is promoting community healing through art. A community-driven panel in each of Pima County’s five supervisory districts selected the artists to translate their stories and hopes into a temporary art installation.

This is the first time that the Health Department has included funding for the arts in grant submissions, and the first time the Arts Foundation has overseen an art project that relied on both a human-centered design and cohort-style process, fostering deeper relationships between the artists and community members throughout their months-long collaboration.

“It’s been incredible to witness community members who are at first hesitant to talk about art, then transform into passionate art advocates for their community,” said Sadie Shaw, Arts Foundation community design manager. “My hope is that the people of Pima County will ultimately see themselves, their community, and art in a new light. This program is truly paving the way to give marginalized communities a seat at the table in the public art process.”

The SaludArte effort launched in 2022 by leveraging census data, the Social Vulnerability Index and COVID-19 data to identify some of the communities in Pima County that were both the hardest hit by COVID and under-resourced.

Beginning last year, SaludArte recruited 15 community members from each identified zip code to participate in a series of meetings to share their pandemic experiences and express hopes for a resilient and brighter future. A committee from each district then held a series of four meetings to: 1) orient and educate community members about the public art process and review artist applications, 2) make a final artist selection, 3) capture community members’ experiences to incorporate into the artist’s temporary art installation, and 4) formally approve the final concept design.

The selected artists have built deep roots and community connections within each district and have created meaningful expressions of art that will be unveiled at each “Celebrate SaludArte” event. The artists are Luis Mena for District 1; Barbea Williams, District 2; Jose Sandoval, District 3; Anón (Jhonattan and Samantha Arango), District 4; and Mata Ruda in District 5.

“It has been amazing to see what has been possible by working together,” said Cullen. “My hope for the participants is that this work will support and foster healing, and that as individuals and communities, we can look forward to a new time of recovery and resiliency.”

This human-centered design process for the art project has also enabled the Health Department to gain valuable insights about the health resources and programs these communities need.

Funding for SaludArte is being provided by multiple Health Department grant programs including Advancing Health Literacy, Health Disparities, Vaccine Equity, and Racial & Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) COVID. Pima County will also be providing free health screenings and other community resources for attendees and their families at each “Celebrate SaludArte” event.

Visit to learn more and find the events near you!

The SaludArte project is 100% supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Office of Minority Health (OMH) Divisions of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial award totaling $467,280. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement by, the CDC/OMH/OASH/HHS, or the U.S. Government. For more information, please visit the Pima County Health Department website.

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