Since September 2010, Catherine "Rusty" Foley has served as Interim Executive Director of Arizona Citizens Action for the Arts (AzCA/AA) and after a 10-month nationwide search, the organization's president, Steve Martin announced yesterday that it was clear "the best possible choice for executive director [was] already in place."
Before joining AzCA/AA, Foley served as Manager of Corporate Affairs at Salt River Project, and sat on the boards of Arizona Theater Company, Arizona Foundation for Women, and Valley of the Sun United Way, to name a few.
In 2006, Foley became an ATHENA Award finalist, a Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce award honoring women that "strive toward the highest levels of professionals accomplishments," and devote time positively impacting their community. Additionally, Phoenix Theater presented her with a "Women Who Care" award in 2009.
Since joining AzCA/AA in September, Foley's spearheaded the 30th anniversary celebration of the Governor's Arts Awards, and managed to expand the Legislative Liaison program. She's also advocated statewide in favor of arts education, and for Arizona's diverse arts communities.
"It's an important time to be advocating for the arts," Foley says. "We have some big challenges in front of us."
Among the most challenging: state budget cuts.
"Our state funding for the arts has been cut back dramatically over the last three, or four years--about 70 percent or so," Foley says. "At this point, the only funding that we have remaining is about $1.5-million from the arts trust, which is a dedicated funding stream that comes from the Arizona Corporation Commission.
"The general fund appropriation that the arts commission used to get was wiped out in the series of reductions over the last three or so years," she says. "and it was eliminated this past year."
But Foley is confident that her organization will play a more assertive roll in "telling the story of the value" Arizona arts and culture has.
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"The arts are a huge economic contributor for the state of Arizona," she says. "Depending on how you count the numbers, arts and cultures contribute anywhere from half a billion, to a billion dollars each year in economic activity.
"We believe that arts and culture should be able to depend on the same sort of incentive, or support, from public funding sources as other major economic sectors in Arizona."
For more information on Arizona Citizens Action for the Arts, visit their website.