From the Desk of Wylwyn…

May 18, 2023 | Arts Foundation News, News, Public Art

Let’s talk about jobs, art jobs. Who gets them, who doesn’t. 

Public Art has started to take off in our beloved city, the City of Tucson. Just in the past few years, we’ve seen many Downtown buildings, neighborhood streets, and public spaces adorned with bright, colorful, community-inspired, and often whimsical artwork. Tucson is a thriving, vibrant city that embraces creative expression as the driving force of Tucson’s distinct identity. 

Who are the artists that get to do this cool work? 

Well, it’s typically established and well-known artists that get most of these commissions. When a Call to Artists is posted, all artists are invited to apply. That means that new and emerging artists are directly competing with established artists for the same gig. As you can guess, an emerging artist’s portfolio is going to look a lot different than that of an established artist. Basically, the emerging artist is less likely to get the commission. Also, many emerging artists don’t have access to the support and tools that expensive art schools provide to succeed.   

How do we support emerging, underrepresented artists?  

We take critical and intentional steps to move that needle. We create a support structure to nourish and grow the local emerging arts community that is interested in pursuing Public Art Commissions 

What does that look like? 

Training and guiding artists on best practices in public art. Teaching artists the ins and outs of the Public Art process. Paying established artists to mentor emerging artists. Creating paid entry-level art commissions to fill up that growing portfolio. 

Who’s going to take on that massive effort? 

Thanks for asking! Ahem. I’m super excited to share new and revamped Public Art programs launching in the coming year that center on intentional job creation and support structures for underrepresented emerging artists. 

I can’t say too much right now because we are still in development and I don’t want to steal my team’s thunder, but I will leave you with some teasers to keep an eye out for: 

  • A paid professional training program that will help underrepresented and emerging Tucson and Southern Arizona artists build their professional portfolio to transition from a studio practice to a public art practice. 
  • New opportunities designed for local, emerging, and youth artists that will offer paid, entry level Public Art commissions. Think temporary public art like community-painted traffic circles. 
  • Last but not least, a much-needed overhaul to our Public Art Roster program that will provide more paid public art commissions than ever before. Speaking of which, be sure to apply by May 31! Keep scrolling for details.

I sincerely hope that y’all are as hyped up as we are about the opportunities coming up on the horizon. Let’s keep moving that needle and see what we can get away with folks! 

In Community, 

Wylwyn Reyes 

Public Art Manager 

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