Open Studios Tours in Other Cities:
As we organize for the fall, it seemed like a good idea to see how other cities handle their Open Studios tours. I mentioned in an earlier posting that both Portland, OR, and Santa Fe, NM have tours on more than just one weekend. So I did some research on several cities, and here are the results I found for 2014 or upcoming 2015 tours. Thanks go out to Jerry Peek for alerting me to Santa Cruz, CA.
Let’s start first with the Old Pueblo.
Fall Open Studio Tour in 2014:
one weekend (second weekend in November)
200+ artists (184 studios, several with multiple artists)
Portland, OR http://www.portlandopenstudios.com/
Population: 609, 456
2 weekends, October 10, 11, and 17, 18
Santa Cruz, CA http://www.artscouncilsc.org/open-studios/
Population 62, 864 and metro 262,382
The city of Santa Cruz and the county coordinate on tours.
2 weekends plus an encore:
North County October 3 and 4;
South County October 10 and 11;
Encore October 17th & 18th
Northern Colorado cities of Boulder (pop. 103,116), Nederland (pop. 1,491), and El Dorado Springs (pop. 585) http://www.openstudios.org/
2 weekends: October 3-4 and Oct 10-11
Santa Fe, NM Studio Tour http://santafestudiotour.com/
2 Weekends (last two weekends in June)
68 Artists (44 studios)
Population 885, 400
Austin has divided into two regions, West Austin and East Austin
West Austin Studio Tour http://west.bigmedium.org/
2 weekends: May 19-20 and May 16-17
East Austin Studio Tour https://www.facebook.com/bigmedium
2 weekends: November 14-15, Nov. 21-22
487 artists so far, tour is still being organized at this time
A note about Austin: your editor went to undergrad school at the University of Texas at Austin (bachelor’s in Journalism and history). At that time, East Austin was a rundown and very poor part of town east of Interstate 35. East Austin was inhabited by a few poor Anglos and many poor and not so poor blacks and Mexican-Americans (race was an issue here, too – not just income). Artists moved into East Austin because studio space was cheap. Over time, East Austin became the hip, cool place to go, according to media reports. Looks to me like East Austin needs to add a third weekend if they have 487 artists signed up! I must admit I gasped when I read about what’s happened in East Austin.
And now we have to conclude that the City of Tucson with half a million people (over a million in the metro area) featuring 200+ artists in its tour last fall really needs to extend Open Studio Tours to more than one weekend.
Right now for the first time ever, Tucsonans have two weekends scheduled for studio tours: one for the west and northwest, and a second for mid-town. If downtown and south of downtown join in with a third weekend, we’ll finally be caught up with most of these American cities. We’ll even be getting a tad bit closer to Santa Fe with its two weekend tours for 68 artists. How lovely that must be.
Sonoran Arts Network has a new page link titled Open Studios. Look at the top menu and click on this link to see current news about fall 2015 Open Studios.
Two groups have organized and now have websites up and running although still under construction as new artists are added every day.
These groups are:
Art Trails which covers the west and northwest side of Tucson (tour October 24-25)
Heart of Tucson Art which covers mid-town Tucson (tour October 31-November 1)
Because these fall studio tours are on different weekends, it will be possible to see artists in different parts of town now. In the past, visiting 200 artists’ studios in just one weekend was impossible.
There is a third tour forming. I finally tracked down the mysterious Alec Laughlin who designed the TPAC Open Studios website last year. According to TPAC CEO Debi Chess Mabie, Laughlin received $6,000 for designing and operating TPAC’s website in 2014 This was out of a total of $21,000 that TPAC spent on the Open Studios tour last year. (source: Arizona Daily Star).
Alec Laughlin said in an email to me today (August 17):
“I think it pretty safe to say that the Fall Open Studio Tour is going to happen this year. I have a meeting with TPAC in the morning (I’ve been out of town for a while) and they are enthusiastic about me taking over and making it happen. I’ll let you know for sure what we decide at that meeting tomorrow.”
So let’s all hope that Laughlin will create a tour for the many downtown and nearby studios on different weekends than Art Trails and Heart of Tucson Art tours are occurring. I suggest the second weekend in November which has been the chosen weekend for the TPAC Open Studios tour for several years now.
Please take note of another very good source of information about art in Tucson and the Open Studios tour in particular. That is Jerry Peek at TucsonArt.Info. Many of you have already heard from Jerry.
Jerry Peek says:
"I have a website, TucsonArt.info, with clickable links to arts organizations and to arts blogs that I write. (I've been hoping for years to find time to redesign and expand the site, but that time hasn't come yet.) The top of the home page has an article about the Open Studios changes; I'll keep it up to date with a capsule summary and/or link(s) to the latest news.
I've sent emails to about 250-300 artists and art groups to make sure they've heard about TPAC's cancellation. I offered to send a few email messages with brief updates -- so artists can know what others are planning. If you'd like to get these messages, please ask me on the TucsonArt.info contact form.
In the first week of September or so, I'll start a web page with lists of tours (arranged by date and area) with links to details on each tour. Later, once most tours have been announced, I'll add a map showing areas of town where each tour will happen and when -- unless the tours overlap enough to make that difficult. If there are lots of tours and no one else is making a more thorough site, I'll aim to. The idea is to help art lovers find tours, and artists, as easily as possible -- on a $0 budget.
Beyond that, I'll see what I can do as things develop. I hope that people who love Tucson artists and art will offer to help -- for instance, a printer might offer to print maps or flyers, a web developer could do a more extensive tour(s) site, and so on. Please dream and be in touch. Shane and I can't do this all ourselves! Thanks.
Fire and Ice
I had some interesting interactions with the folks at TPAC this past week. One was best described as “heated” – that’s the fire – the other was icy cold.
Apparently my comment to Kathleen Allen in the Arizona Daily Star was not very popular at TPAC. I was quoted in the Star as saying: “I think of the studio tours as one of the reasons TPAC exists. … The loss of the tour affects thousands, both artists and people who attend. … I think TPAC is making a mistake and is in danger of becoming irrelevant.”
So in the “heated” interaction, I was told that the word “irrelevant” was viewed as an “attack” and giving “ammo to the politicians who want to do away with TPAC.” The logic here is the same as if I write my Congressional rep and tell him/her that I’m opposed to the U.S. invading XYZ country, and I am told in return that I am a traitor to the U.S. and I am “giving ammo” to terrorists and commies.
So let me go on record. I support the work of TPAC. It should be obvious by now that I support the work of hundreds of artists in southern Arizona. Two years of Sonoran Arts Network’s publication of news, interviews, features, and reviews should prove that.
No one is above criticism. TPAC made a mistake by spending too much on Open Studios last year, by failing to find less expensive alternatives, and then cancelling so late in the year.
My view is that I did TPAC a favor by pointing out the error of their ways. My hope is that TPAC thrives. To do that, though, the admin there will have to prioritize better in the future.
And for the record, if there is a villain or villains here, it’s those _____ in the Phoenix legislature who don’t give a diddly damn about the arts or kids or health care either. Look at the opening paragraph in a story by Howard Fischer on the front page of Arizona Daily Star, August 17, 2015:
“In the face of bottom-of-the barrel classroom spending, massive cuts to universities and efforts to cut health care for the poor, the Ducey administration has decided what it needs to do is spend money to polish the state’s image.”
I hope they hire an artist to create that new image!
My new image of Arizona is welcoming to visitors who love the arts and recognize the value of the arts. Those people who spend money on arts bring about $80 million dollars each year to Tucson. We could be an arts destination like Santa Fe if we only could get support….just a little support would go a long way.
Many, many thanks go out to you who contributed donations to Sonoran Arts Network. Your financial support is desperately needed. But even better are the encouraging notes I’ve received!
As I mentioned in the posting last week about Tucson Pima Arts Council's (TPAC) cancellation of fall Open Studios Tour, I will do my best to keep you updated.
First you need to read the article by Kathleen Allen that ran in the Arizona Daily Star this past week about TPAC’s cancellation of fall Open Studios. Here’s the link:
You’ll no doubt notice that last fall’s Open Studio Tour costs TPAC $21,000. The high cost is why the Tour was cancelled.
For many of us who actually try to make a living in the arts, or who depend up art sales to supplement a meager income, the cancellation is a real problem for us. In my own case, I’ve participated in Open Studio Tours for 8 or 10 years, and each year my art sales increase. I’ve also made contacts at Studio Tours with collectors who have returned later to purchase larger works. The loss of Open Studios is a big loss for me personally, and for many other artists, too. I’m committed to doing what I can to keep it alive.
The folks at TPAC are kind-hearted individuals who have done their best to keep arts alive in the face of continuing budget cuts enacted by certain legislators in Phoenix who seem to have no care at all for the arts. In this case, I do think it would have been better for TPAC to give us all a little warning instead of waiting until the last weekend in July, the week we would normally register for fall Open Studio Tour, to tell us the Tour was cancelled. The arts community is scrambling now trying to respond. There have been only two options a) a very expensive tour; or b) no tour at all. I’m convinced that there has to be a third or fourth option.
We artists are already responding.
1) There is a group calling itself Art Trail which is organizing a studio tour on the West and Northwest side of Tucson.
2) There is a group calling itself Heart of Tucson Art which is organizing in Mid-Town Tucson now. I live in this area and will be working with this group.
There may be more artists’ groups. If you hear of any, let me know.
Jerry Peek of Tucson.Art.Info is evaluating the situation now and is considering a modified, less elaborate and less expensive method of support for Tucson artists and the fall Studio Tour. I hope we’ll hear from him soon. There is a comment on last week’s Editor’s Page posting by Natalie Fruciano. She said, “Hey everyone, I got in touch with someone at TPAC, they said they are reviewing how to support artist led efforts for an open studio in an organized matter and will be in contact in a week or so.”
So maybe there is some hope for us yet. I think if we all work together, we can keep fall Open Studios Tour alive and well.
Meanwhile, I’d like to remind you that there are ways to create websites very easily and for free on platforms like Wix, Weebly, Squarespace and other sites. You can create your own website or create one for a group of artists. Sonoran Arts Network is a Weebly site. Also I want to introduce you to Tour Builder https://tourbuilder.withgoogle.com/ , a free Google app, that makes it possible to create maps of tours in your part of town. We’ll be adding a Sonoran bioregion tour map soon to our website.
Stay in touch.
Great dismay was the response most of us had when we learned last week that Tucson Pima Arts Council (TPAC) is cancelling the fall Open Studios Tour. I spoke with Debi Chess Mabie at TPAC who told me that TPAC has experienced some budget cutbacks recently. The Open Studios Tour took more time and resources than any other TPAC program, according to Ms. Mabie, and so it was decided by TPAC administrators that Open Studios had to go.
I question the wisdom of this. The Open Studios Tour impacted far more people than any other TPAC program. The TPAC website lists the projects TPAC directly is involved in or supports in some way. Most of these programs impact far fewer people per program than the Studio Tour which affects not only artists but art collectors who visit studios during the tour, as well as follow-up contacts that lead to sales for artists. The elimination of this program that literally affects thousands of people is a major setback for so many of us.
In times of financial distress, the preferred solution is in downsizing, not eliminating. For example, if you lost your job, are you going to start feeding your kids beans instead of steak? Or are you going to tell your kids that they don’t get to eat supper at all? I wish some effort had been put into figuring out how to downsize rather than completely eliminate the Open Studios tour.
Dirk Arnold, who took on the Spring Tucson Open Studio Tour after TPAC eliminated it, does not plan to do fill in the breach for the fall Open Studio (as of today, August 3). No one has stepped forward to fill this gaping hole. Already artists are organizing into smaller, city sub-regional groups to compensate for the loss of Open Studios.
Sonoran Arts Network will be establishing a special page on our website with listings of these artists’ groups which are planning a fall studio tour. The SAN page will be one page only with a brief listing of the name of the group, members, studio addresses, and contact information.
If you are in the process of organizing such a group, contact me at editor@SonoranArtsNetwork.net to be listed.
I have been in discussions with some artists about SAN taking up the task of creating a website for fall Open Studios and promoting the tour. I can see how this could be done less expensively than in the past. “Less expensive” still involves some money, though, and at this point SAN has no financial resources at all. Nada.
We’ll see what evolves in the next month. In the meantime, we'd like to hear from you. Make a comment!
C.J. Shane is the publisher and editor of Sonoran Arts Network. She is an artist and writer. Visit her website at www.cjshane.com to learn more about her.