From the desk of… Laura Reese, Communications and Events
By: Lauren Bays
News & Opps / October 21, 2020

From the desk of… Laura Reese, Communications and Events

Discovering new art one studio at a time.

From the desk of Laura Reese, Communications and Events with Storyteller PR

It’s hard to believe we’re rounding the final lap of 2020. With so many changes, and so much still unknown, I return to a message that circulated on social media in March: one that implored us to remember—that when this is all over—how film, music, literature, public art, solo concerts on Zoom, poetry, and so many other forms of art got us through this. To remember that it got us through this every time we hear (again and again) how the arts are ‘non-essential’.

How has art been essential for you this year? How has it given voice to your feelings? Has it helped you process the news headlines? Did it inspire you? Has it cried with you? Has it prompted you to think differently or consider a new perspective? As I consider the specific ways I’ve leaned on the arts this year, I think about what art I’d like to hold on to permanently and how the art in our community has inspired me to hope in the future of what surrounds me. How can I surround myself with reminders of resiliency, my own and my community’s? This desire drives me to seek out and collect art from local artists, making my home a place for reminders, inspiration, and thoughtful growth.

As so many large-scale open studio tours across the country have been cancelled or postponed indefinitely due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, I’m so thrilled that the Arts Foundation for Tucson and Southern Arizona (AFTSA) has not followed suit. Rather than cancel this year’s event, AFTSA has pivoted our annual Open Studio Tours (OST) to an online setting. 

Open Studio Tours Online, taking place November 27 through December 6, will serve as a free, temporary hub for the community and local artists to connect. Artists located in Pima County can register and share their artistic processes, virtually open their studio spaces, and sell their artwork directly to the community in a collective space. Our goal is to keep artist registration as accessible as possible while still creating an engaging experience for visitors — and providing a free opportunity for artists to promote themselves and sell their artwork. Artist Registration is currently open and will close on November 20, 2020 at

Keeping the intent and spirit of the event intact while going online has resulted in an expansion to the Open Studio Tours website. Artists can upload descriptions, pictures, and video of their artworks and studios and have the opportunity to host Virtual Studio Tours through Zoom during the event dates. Resources, workshops, and tutorials have been provided to help artists register and maintain an online presence — before, during, and after the tours. During the event, visitors will browse the individual Artist Pages to learn about and engage with artists, virtually visit studios, and purchase art directly from local artists in Pima County.

I hope to use this event as an opportunity to get to know more about the artists creating in my community and to reach out, connect, and purchase art that speaks to me and my desire of creating a space that inspires and causes me to constantly reflect on how lucky we are to all have each other to learn from and lean on.

Open Studio Tours Online runs from November 27-December 6, 2020, with the hopes that people will consider supporting local art when purchasing gifts for the holidays. Artist Registration is now open and will close November 20, 2020. For more details about the event, including Artist Registration and Resources, visit

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