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.