Creatives Reflect on the Last Decade in Arts | Phoenix New Times

10 Years, 10 Creatives: Looking Back Over a Decade in Local Arts and Culture

A lot has happened in the last 10 years on the local arts scene.
Spoken word artist Joy Young.
Spoken word artist Joy Young. Joy Young
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Change is always happening in the realm of creativity, but some changes feel more significant than others. Here’s what 10 metro Phoenix creatives shared when we asked them about the best things that have happened in the local arts scene during the last decade.

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Choreographer Carley Conder.
Carley Conder

Carley Conder

Founder, CONDER/dance

We’ve seen the arts move more into unconventional spaces. Instead of performances happening mainly on stages at dedicated performing arts centers, they’re happening in different spaces in the community — including galleries, hotels, and outdoor festivals. It means more opportunities for artists and more access for audiences.

Catherine “Rusty” Foley

Arts Advocate

There’s been more democratization of art, as organizations have found new ways to do work that reflects our communities. New organizations are springing up all over, and many of the older organizations have new leadership — including more women, LGBTQ people, and people of color.

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Detail of a La Morena mural in South Phoenix.
Lynn Trimble

Carmen and Zarco Guerrero

Founders, Cultural Coalition

There’s been a significant increase in the prevalence of murals, beginning with Calle 16. Murals provide an important sense of place, and they make art accessible to everyone 24/7. Phoenix is distinguished by its vibrant mural scene, which increases the quality of life for everyone and creates new opportunities for artists.

David Hemphill

Executive Director, Black Theatre Troupe

People used to feel like they had to go downtown to see a show, but now there are centers in so many cities other than Phoenix. Art centers are bringing in more types of work, including alternative theater. As more people have moved to Phoenix and the city has grown, art has spread into more geographical areas, and audiences have demanded more variety.

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Poet Alberto Ríos.
Andy De Lisle/ASU

Alberto Rios

Poet and ASU Professor

The arts have shifted into the mainstream of everyday life. We’re seeing them more regularly, and things we used to consider edgy are more prevalent in public life. We’re embracing more of the quiet side of the arts, instead of focusing on the big applause events. And technology is making the arts more accessible.

Lisa Sette of Lisa Sette Gallery.
Troy Aossey

Lisa Sette

Founder, Lisa Sette Gallery

Artists have been responding more to what’s happening in the world and seeing a greater need to bring about social change through culture. Social issues have become more pressing, and artists and galleries have been responding to that — especially because we’re a border state.

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Filmmaker Matty Steinkamp speaks during a screening for You Racist, Sexist, Bigot.
Lynn Trimble

Matty Steinkamp


The independent film industry in Phoenix has seen significant changes because of FilmBar, which has helped create a network for local filmmakers. It’s given indie filmmakers a place to show their work and see films by other indie filmmakers. It’s also provided a consistent place for local audiences to see documentaries about social issues, then have conversations about them.

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Cultural producer Mary Stephens.
Mary Stephens

Mary Stephens

Art Producer and Equity Consultant

Phoenix is feeling more like a big city because more local artists are having conversations with national and international artists through groups like CALA Alliance. These conversations are helping local artists to see themselves differently and create new realities in our communities.

Joy Young

Spoken Word Artist

The storytelling community has become more supportive of each other by shifting away from a scarcity mentality towards the idea that all boats rise together. There’s more collaboration between artists, including artists in different fields, as well as new art groups and incubator spaces.

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