These Four Valley Arts Institutions Won Flinn Foundation Awards

Exploring work by Bryan David Griffith at Phoenix Art Museum.
Exploring work by Bryan David Griffith at Phoenix Art Museum. Lynn Trimble
click to enlarge Exploring work by Bryan David Griffith at Phoenix Art Museum. - LYNN TRIMBLE
Exploring work by Bryan David Griffith at Phoenix Art Museum.
Lynn Trimble
Four metro Phoenix arts organizations have received grants from the Flinn Foundation so far this year. Together, the grants total $250,000.

The Flinn Foundation is a privately endowed philanthropic organization founded in 1965. The foundation makes grants to nonprofits working in several areas, including arts and culture, bioscience, education, and civic leadership.

Its arts and culture focus includes "improving the financial and creative health of Arizona's largest arts and culture organizations."

Scottsdale Arts was recently awarded a $100,000 grant from the Flinn Foundation. Scottsdale Arts is the nonprofit organization (formerly the Scottsdale Cultural Council) that oversees Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, and Scottsdale Public Art. It announced the award in a Thursday, June 13, press release.

The Heard Museum also received a $100,000 grant from the foundation this year. Two museums, Phoenix Art Museum and the Musical Instrument Museum, received $25,000 grants from the foundation this year.

The Scottsdale Arts grant will help Scottsdale Arts expand its presentation of off-site productions through a new program called Scottsdale Arts Presents. For the 2017-18 season, Scottsdale Arts Presents will feature three performances at the Orpheum Theatre — with cellist Yo-Yo Ma and pianist Kathryn Stott, author David Sedaris, and storyteller Ira Glass. It also includes concerts at Celebrity Theatre and the Musical Instrument Museum.

"We've been doing performances at other venues for 20 years, because no one venue is right for every performer," says Neale Perl, president and CEO of Scottsdale Arts since August 2014. "We're excited about bringing five big-name artists to other parts of the Valley."

The Scottsdale Arts Presents program is part of a larger effort to increase the organization's geographic footprint, while introducing new audiences to its offerings. "Expanding our programming will help us reach people who wouldn't normally come to Scottsdale, and introduce them to everything we offer," Perl says.

Perl hopes that people who attend one of Scottsdale Arts' off-site events will decide to explore what's happening at Scottsdale Center for the Arts and Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art. "The grant will help us reach a larger and more diverse audience, and make it more convenient for more people to see these artists."

The Heard Museum grant will fund the purchase and integration of high-quality digital video projection and audio equipment. The equipment will allow the museum greater flexibility in presenting new kinds of media exhibitions and events. But it should also give visitors greater access to the museum's film library, and increased revenue from venue rentals.

Phoenix Art Museum's $25,000 grant will go toward designing and deploying a study of the interests and needs of the museum's audience. One goal of the study is identifying ways to the museum can convert occasional visitors into lifetime members.

The Musical Instrument Museum is using its $25,000 grant to research, design, and test sensory-friendly programming for children with autism and their families.

In 2016, the Flinn Foundation awarded a $25,000 planning grant to Scottsdale Arts. Scottsdale Arts Presents was developed as part of Scottsdale Arts' 2015 strategic plan. The program launched during the 2016-17 season. The recent Heard Museum grant also follows a 2016 $25,000 planning grant from the Flinn Foundation.

In total, the Flinn Foundation is working with 19 of the state's largest arts and cultural organizations, says Matt Ellsworth, vice president for communications. So additional planning and implementation grants are likely down the road.

"We're grateful to the Flinn Foundation," Perl says. "The more we're out in the community, the better."

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Lynn Trimble is an award-winning freelance writer and photographer specializing in arts and culture, including visual and performing arts
Contact: Lynn Trimble