Dale Erquiaga may be a semi-recent transplant to the Valley, but he's no stranger to the Phoenix arts community. And starting this month, he says you'll be seeing a lot more of him around Roosevelt Row.
In December, Erquiaga was named the new executive director of the Roosevelt Row Community Development Corporation, a role he says will nicely combine his previous experience with his future goals for downtown Phoenix.
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Erquiaga was born and raised in Nevada and has a background in nonprofit consulting. He's worked in government at the local, state, and national levels, and before moving to Phoenix (to be closer to his college-aged kids), he was a senior advisor to Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval and served as a chairperson of the Western States Arts Federation (WESTAF).
In Arizona, he's worked with Valley Leadership, the Arizona Commission on the Arts, and the Arizona Humanities Council, and was a board member of Arizona Citizens for the Arts.
"This opportunity is putting together a lot of things I've done in my life," says Erquiaga. "It brings my background in public policy, government, and the arts together in a nice way to serve a place where people can live, work, and play."
Cindy Dach, one of Roosevelt Row's founding members agrees. "We're thrilled to have attracted such great candidates, and Dale is a great choice," she says. "Dale's creative and political background is unique and speaks to the diverse interests and strategies of Roosevelt Row ... We're excited about our future."
The arts district has a deep-rooted history in downtown Phoenix. In the 1970s, the area was rezoned as a high-rise incentive district to bring in dense residential and office buildings. Ultimately, the new zoning stunted growth of the largely single-family home neighborhood, and as residents and businesses moved out, the value of the area plummeted.
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These once-abandoned buildings and vacant houses became attractive to artists because they were affordable for studio spaces and galleries. From this revitalization came Roosevelt Row Community Development Corporation, which aims to "advocate for the continuing presence and role of the arts and small business in the revitalization of the district, and to foster a dense, diverse and walkable urban community."
Erquiaga says his short-term goals are to continue Roosevelt Row's successful programming and fundraising activities while helping to oversee the implementation of major national grants Roosevelt Row has received this year and will continue to fundraise for the non-profit.
"This board and its founders have a wonderful vision for Downtown that use arts as a model for placemaking," he says. "Downtown Phoenix will be a national story and will be a case study for how to use arts to build community from the ground up. We're at a tipping point. It's an exciting opportunity."