Architecture and Design

Lindsay Kinkade on the State of the Arts in Metro Phoenix

When Jackalope Ranch issued a 10-question survey asking Phoenicians (and anyone with an opinion of Phoenix) to sound of on the state of the arts in the Valley of the Sun, dozens provided insights on what's happening in the city's creative realm. We'll present a selection of survey responses here over the next three weeks. Up today is Lindsay Kinkade of Design RePublic.

What are three words that describe the arts in Arizona? grassroots, growing, participatory

See also: State of the Arts: Phoenix's Arts Community Is at a Make-or-Break Moment. It's Time to Grow Up

Describe your role in the Arizona arts scene (including "observer" -- a very important role!) and how it came to be. observer, maker, cultivator, teacher, mentor, business owner, customer, participant, advocate, lobbyist

Who is making the biggest impact on metro Phoenix's art scene and how are they doing that? EALPHX is organizing young leaders into a strong collaborative that will become the next wave of major cultural leaders. Among the current leadership group in Phoenix, I'd highlight the work of Greg Esser & Joseph Benesh-They are building strong local organizations that PAY creatives to make their work and to teach. We need a strong local art economy to get to the next level.

Also, NEDCO is starting to do work in Phoenix. Their model is very powerful and will help artists finance projects that make a big impact.

Where has metro Phoenix made the biggest strides in the arts in the last 10 years or so? I've only been here 3 years, but Roosevelt Row's emergence on the national radar with its Artplace grants has made huge strides in showing the rest of the country that we have a thriving art scene that can compete at a national level for funding and can do well-executed placemaking projects.

What are Arizona's most underused arts resources? Phoenix Center for the Arts is well-used, but could be used so much more. With every ounce of energy that is poured into it, a huge burst of community goodness comes out.

How can artists and institutions better connect with audiences? We can offer more classes in organized ways. For instance, many individual artists are teaching workshops in their studios. If we had more nodes for one-stop-shopping marketing/education portals for audiences to find the courses, we would all get better attendance and would build the audience for our more established work.

Teaching is a way of empowering individuals and also a way of building audiences. Sometimes there is a fear that teaching the skills we use in our practice will make our practice irrelevant. I find the opposite to be true. When I teach others how to make work like mine, they better understand just how hard it is. I find that teaching is a great way to meet collaborators and to demystify the challenges of my process. Pulling back the curtain shows that it's much more than a hobby-great work is a job that requires enormous amounts of time and practice.

What are the biggest roadblocks in metro Phoenix's art scene and how can we get past them? Financing of artist-owned spaces. Because artists in Phoenix are still mostly renters, every investment we make in a place is for the benefit of our landlords. We can hope that they are benevolent landlords who will continue to host artists (we do have a handful of these landlords, thankfully!).

Until we own our own spaces and see the financial benefit ourselves (that we can protect from development that hurts our community), we will not have a stable, mature, and sustainable art community. We need the core stability of a group of artist landowner/developers to ensure that creative work can continue to happen in the same locations for a long time. The disruption of moving one's studio (as renters must do) is a major challenge in a creative practice. It hampers creative and business development and discourages mature artists from staying in one place.

Many other cities have established CDCs (community development corporations) that help artists buy and maintain their properties. I was fortunate enough to be in Providence, Rhode Island at a time when my neighborhood was being revitalized by just such a group of artists and local non-profits. A CDC helped me buy a multifamily property and helped me become a good landlord. I have paid these investments forward by renting primarily to artists. My local neighborhood association, to which I gladly pay annual dues, helps me work with my neighbors and the City to clean up our neighborhood. By joining with other artist-landlords in a collaborative and hands-on way, I was able to build a viable rental property that has allowed me to make my creative work in a sustainable way. Artists often know how to fix things and build. By becoming our own bosses in real estate and art, we have the ability to both make our city beautiful and build our own practices.

Metro Phoenix's art scene needs __________. Economic support and organizational infrastructure. We need more CDCs, non-profits, and businesses helping artists build strong economic foundations for our practices. Classes, financing programs, networking groups, and more.

What can metro Phoenix's art scene learn from other parts of the state -- and country? Art is a hobby for many, but is also a job for some. By building a stronger economic ecosystem for art, we can continue our placemaking work and can help leverage the power of art for the economic development of the whole valley. Art is a great investment!

In three years, what three words do you hope describe the state of the arts in Arizona? well-connected (to patrons and among artists), diverse, robust

See also: Rashaad Thomas on the State of the Arts in Metro Phoenix

Follow Jackalope Ranch on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Becky Bartkowski is an award-winning journalist and the arts and music editor at New Times, where she writes about art, fashion, and pop culture.
Contact: Becky Bartkowski