Melissa Dunmore 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 poet, performer, and writer Melissa Dunmore of Phoenix's Mujeres del Sol.

1. What are three words that describe the arts in Arizona? Cultural, visible, and amassing.

See also: Melissa Dunmore of Phoenix's Mujeres del Sol: 100 Creatives

2. Describe your role in the Arizona arts scene (including "observer" -- a very important role!) and how it came to be. My role in the Arizona arts scene is creative, collaborator, catalyst, and witness. This came to be by attending events and getting to know the people within those spaces. I then worked with others to create new spaces that are representative and inclusive of all the vibrant identities that reside here. Furthermore, I am consistently trying to be the change I want to see in my arts community.

3. Who is making the biggest impact on metro Phoenix's art scene and how are they doing that? Culture leaders are making the biggest impact on metro Phoenix's art scene in the many cultural spheres that exist here.

4. Where has metro Phoenix made the biggest strides in the arts in the last 10 years or so? The biggest strides in the arts have happened with the shift from institution-based arts programming towards grassroots community led initiatives -- getting art out of buildings and into the streets where people cannot ignore it.

5. What are Arizona's most underused arts resources? Arizona's most underused arts resources is the sad lack of arts funding in education. We should be empowering the youth to utilize art as a means to not only make sense of the world but change it for the better.

6. How can artists and institutions better connect with audiences? By being authentic. By not pandering to what is trendy or controversial if it does not apply to them personally. By not appropriating another's lived experience but rather inviting and empowering those with a specific story to tell to tell their story.

7. What are the biggest roadblocks in metro Phoenix's art scene and how can we get past them? I think the biggest roadblocks in metro Phoenix's art scene are sprawl and sequester. People still cling to their familiar stomping grounds and may be uneasy to shake up their routines and go somewhere new. But we are making strides all the time to bring these walls down.

8. Metro Phoenix's art scene needs __________. The art scene needs less homogenous, heteronormative, patriarchal, institution-based, Euro-Centric spaces in which to be cultivated and shown.

9. What can metro Phoenix's art scene learn from other parts of the state -- and country? I think we can learn from historic trends that arts areas tend to be bought by big developers once they have worked hard dot put themselves on the map. Let's not let that happen here.

10. In three years, what three words do you hope describe the state of the arts in Arizona? Representative, valued, intact.

See also: Roosevelt Row: The Fight to Keep Downtown Phoenix "Authentic" Is a Fight to Let It Become Something It's Never Been

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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